The New England Patriots saw considerable talent leave the team so far this offseason — and that does not even include numerous assistant coaches led by defensive signal caller Brian Flores: tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement, star defender Trey Flowers left to join the Detroit Lions via free agency, and starting left tackle Trent Brown will wear the silver and black for the Oakland Raiders in 2019.
Amidst all the departures, however, the club also was able to acquire some potentially valuable pieces. One that stands out among them, at least according to advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus, is defensive edge Michael Bennett. The Patriots acquired the veteran via trade from the Philadelphia Eagles before the start of free agency — a very good move for New England especially as security for the since-lost Trey Flowers.
PFF agrees and Bennett’s role as a replacement for Flowers and released Adrian Clayborn plays a role in the assessment:
Former Patriots edge defender Trey Flowers and his 89.7 overall grade from last season are headed to Detroit, leaving a hole at the position. That hole was quickly filled with the acquisition of the veteran edge rusher Bennett via trade. At the age of 33, Bennett was still effective at getting after the quarterback in 2018; his 68 regular season pressures last season ranked fifth among all edge defenders, and they were four more than Flower’s total of 64. Overall, Bennett ended the season with a grade of 75.9. For a team that lost over 100 pressures off the edge between Flowers and Adrian Clayborn, Bennett will step in immediately as a much-needed pass-rush specialist.
As noted by PFF writers Ben Cooper and Ben Linsey, Bennett is expected to play a considerable role in New England right away. Together with Deatrich Wise Jr. and recently re-signed John Simon, the ex-Eagle will form the core of the position group as it is currently constituted. Meanwhile, 2018 depth options Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis and Ufomba Kamalu will fight for playing time and roster spots over the next five months.
Even though the Patriots will likely add more talent to their defensive edge during the draft — either by drafting or trading — Bennett will still see plenty of action in 2019. The trade that sent a fifth-round draft pick to Philadelphia in exchange for Bennett and a seventh-rounder, could therefore pay huge dividends for the reigning world champions.