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Patriots claim TE Martellus Bennett on waivers

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He’s BACK!

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers released Bennett claiming the tight end failed to disclose a medical condition, which Bennett denies. Bennett was looking for ways to leave the Packers once Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collar bone and now he is reunited with the Patriots where he won Super Bowl LI as the starting tight end.

The Patriots were 30th in the waiver order, which means that 29 other teams passed on Bennett and his veteran’s minimum contract. It is unknown if the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles placed a claim on Bennett.

Bennett is battling a shoulder injury that sidelined him for week 9 and that led to the divorce with the Packers. The Patriots will have to ensure that Bennett is healthy enough to contribute, but he will be a welcome addition to an offense where he produced 711 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2016.

The Patriots will no longer receive a 2018 4th or 5th round compensatory pick for losing Bennett, but instead they get the player back who should slide into the #2 tight end role behind Rob Gronkowski and ahead of Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister.

Bennett is on the books for roughly $423,529 in base salary and up to an additional $300,000 in gameday activity bonuses for 2017. Bennett is due a $2 million roster bonus in March of 2018 when the Patriots will decide whether to retain Bennett, or move on without any dead cap space.

If the Patriots keep Bennett, he will be under contract for 2018 and 2019 with a base salary of $3.6 million and $5.65 million in each respective year, along with $600,000 in gameday activity bonuses and $250,000 in roster bonuses. This is a complete bargain for a tight end of Bennett’s caliber.

Look for the Patriots to make a corresponding roster move shortly, with offensive lineman Cole Croston a prime option now that fellow versatile offensive lineman Anthony Fabiano is on the practice squad.

The Patriots have release DL Geneo Grissom to make space for Bennett, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

More on this story shortly.