Even though the NFL trade deadline has passed and veterans have to pass through the waiver wire upon release, the New England Patriots were able to make a big acquisition yesterday. The team picked up tight end Martellus Bennett, who with the Patriots in 2016, on waivers after he was recently released by the Green Bay Packers.
The move has multiple ramifications in terms of financials and compensatory draft picks. The most prominent and basic of them all, however, is a potential boost to New England's tight end depth chart. Let's take a look at the position group now that Bennett has been added to the fold.
Rob Gronkowski: The NFL's best tight will continue to do what he does even with Bennett back. Gronkowski, who has caught 34 passes for 509 yards and five touchdowns so far this season, will be used as both a receiver and a blocker - two areas of the game he excels in. When healthy, he will play close to 100% of snaps no matter who joins him on the depth chart.
Martellus Bennett: His rotator cuff injury could potentially lead to Bennett being placed on injured reserve before his second stint in New England even really begins. If he is able to play through the injury, however, he immediately becomes New England's second-best receiving tight end due to his preexisting rapport with quarterback Tom Brady and his proven abilities as a pass catcher.
Dwayne Allen: While the trade acquisition has been a disappointment as a pass catcher so far, he has been serviceable as a pass protector and run blocker. If Bennett stays on the active roster, Allen's usage is projected to change slightly as he will likely no longer see as many snaps going out on passing patterns and could focus more on his forte (at least this season), blocking.
Jacob Hollister: The undrafted rookie has seen limited offensive playing time this season. Bennett, provided of course that he is healthy, will likely cut even deeper into Hollister's snap count given that the two have a similar skill set. Consequently, acquiring the veteran might turn the 23-year old into a regular game day inactive.
While the four players listed above are New England’s primary tight ends, the team also uses fullback James Develin in a tight end-like role at times. Furthermore, Will Tye has recently been signed to the Patriots’ practice squad as an additional layer of depth.