The Green Bay Packers released tight end Martellus Bennett for failure to disclose a medical condition, as Alec wrote about yesterday. Bennett disputes the notion that he failed to disclose anything, according to Pro Football Talk. The tight end didn’t appear on the Packers injury report until week 9 with a shoulder problem, where he did not practice the entire week and didn’t play.
I think the Patriots should absolutely, 100% put in a waiver claim on Bennett, even if they have the smallest odds of getting the tight end.
Bennett was on pace for a 64 catch, 621 yard season with the Packers prior to quarterback Aaron Rodgers breaking his collar bone, so he’s still producing as a receiver. He has a rapport with Tom Brady and would undeniably be a positive addition to the red zone offense. Bennett is a smart player to add from a pure football standpoint.
And he’s also a smart choice from a salary cap standpoint. Any team that claims Bennett is on the hook for the remainder of his deal, but that’s actually peanuts. $6.3 million of Bennett’s 3-year, $21 million was guaranteed by the Packers as a signing bonus, so the claiming team would get Bennett for two-and-a-half years for a little over $14 million since the Packers also already paid Bennett’s roster and workout bonus and half of his base salary.
That’s a bargain price for what Bennett brings to the offense and with a $2 million roster bonus due in March, the Patriots could claim Bennett for the second half of 2017 and then walk away if they want without any dead cap space in 2018.
How much would the Patriots have to pay Bennett in 2017? His base salary is the minimum at $900,000, so Bennett would only cost his new team less than half of that price.
And therein lies the problem. How many other teams will look at Bennett and say to themselves, Bennett’s on too cheap of a deal to pass over? A lot, probably. The Patriots are towards the end of the waiver claim order so every other team with a worse record than New England would have to agree that Bennett would not be an asset to their team.
So that’s the bottom line. The Patriots are a perfect fit for Bennett from both a salary and a football standpoint, but the odds of Bennett staying on waivers until the Patriots’ claim is highly unlikely.
But who knows. That’s exactly what happened to LeGarrette Blount after he was cut by the Steelers in 2014 and came back to the Patriots. Maybe teams will see Bennett with the same toxicity that they saw Blount- toxicity that was never a problem in New England- and that will play into the benefit of the Patriots.