Tight end Martellus Bennett caught all three of his targets for a total of 38 yards in his first game back with the New England Patriots in just 7 snaps. Bennett noted its “been a surreal week” as he’s bounced from the Green Bay Packers to New England with the Patriots, and immediately went on the road to Denver to face the Broncos.
And there was a very real chance that none of this would have happened because Bennett was telling teams that he was going to get surgery and that they shouldn’t claim him off waivers.
“Last week I thought I was going to be on IR,” Bennett said before explaining why he changed his mind. “It's not about ‘could you play?’ It's about ‘should you play?’ It was one of those things. Right now, I'm just f— it.”
“At first I told my agent to tell no teams to claim me because I was still trying to get the surgery or whatever,” Bennett added. “When Bill [Belichick] called after they claimed me... then he was like 'What's going on?’ I told him and then we had a quick conversation and then I told him ‘I'll think about it and I'll call you back.’
“Even then it wasn't just 'Hey, you want to come play?' It was ‘let me just call you back in a few minutes and let me think about it and regroup” because I don't even know if I went through the seven stages of grief yet; I'm probably on step three.”
Once Bennett processed the idea of playing for the Patriots, and reflected on his decision to get the surgery, he decided that the best way to stick it to the Packers for waiving him after agreeing to have the surgery.
“It was one of those things I felt I should get fixed,” Bennett explained, “and then after deciding to get it fixed and getting waived, you've got that vengeance in your heart and you're just like alright are you going to do it? OK, f— it, let's go ball."
“You get that vengeance in your heart.” pic.twitter.com/fMx6HdanZ4— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) November 13, 2017
Bennett had already shifted focus away from the field, with discussions with Netflix and television networks to be on various productions to keep him busy during rehab, so he had to get back to thinking about football with the Patriots.
“I think the group of guys on this team couldn't be a better place for me in what I'm going through right now and my situation,” Bennett said. “It couldn't have been a better place, all of the familiar faces and things like that and it's good to have those guys around."
Bennett talks about being normal for a couple of days pic.twitter.com/lnd4aMwVfT— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) November 13, 2017
Bennett also relayed his hectic Friday schedule, and how much of a whirlwind the past few days have been.
“When I got here, I landed at 2:30 (a.m.), got to the hotel,” Bennett said, according to NESN’s Doug Kyed. “Had to be back at the facility at 5:45 (a.m.) and then Bill’s like, ‘Can you practice?’ “I was like, ‘Bill, I just want to go to sleep right now.’
“‘Oh, it’s a Friday, you know? Just go and get some snaps,’ [Belichick said]
“And then I’m like — I think he knows how to talk to me too, so I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll go out there.’ Next thing you know I’m back on the plane five hours to Denver and it was just like. Yeah, Colorado’s nice.”
The Patriots are glad to have Bennett back and he should provide some extra value for the rest of the season.
Also, whether intentional or not, Bennett totally gamed the waiver wire process to land with the Patriots. Bennett’s agent told every team that the tight end needed shoulder surgery, so what team would be willing to take on Bennett’s contract only to pay for his rehabilitation and then give him a $2 million roster bonus in March?
Probably only a team that was on good terms with Bennett and knew how to utilize his skill set- and that’s literally only the Patriots.
Teams and players play the waiver wire all the time with practice squad and fringe players, with agents telling teams their client would prefer to stay with a particular franchise. Now teams can ignore those requests, but they certainly take place. Bennett just comes with a marquee name.
So Bennett was able to land with the Patriots and both parties are going to move forward, happier for having the reunion.