While the draft is naturally stealing the spotlight at this point in the NFL offseason, the college players added are only one part of a team’s roster construction. For the New England Patriots, this process also included acquiring a veteran defensive lineman via trade to bolster a position group undergoing significant changes due to the departures of 2018 starters/top rotational options Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn.
Shortly before the start of free agency, the Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Michael Bennett and a seventh-round selection. Earlier this week, Bennett joined FS1’s First Things First to talk about getting the opportunity to play for the reigning world champions. And by the sound of it, the 33-year-old is appreciative of being given a chance to play for the most successful dynasty the NFL has ever seen.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Bennett said when asked about his thoughts on coming to New England. “One, I get to play with Tom Brady, Devin McCourty and all these great guys — Dont’a Hightower — guys that have been in great situations, guys who know about ‘team,’ and I just want to learn about leadership and want to learn about how to build a team and fit in and how to do all these different things. And I think they do a great job at that.”
“Bill Belichick also, he’s the Jedi when it comes to defense, when it comes to team and organization,” the three-time Pro Bowler continued. “Being a young business owner and a father and all these different things, it’s a great opportunity to learn from somebody like Bill Belichick how to organize your organization and how to be the leader and have that message that people follow all the time.”
Bennett will not only get a chance to learn from the NFL’s premier head coach, but also is expected to see considerable playing time on a defense that has lost some key contributors from year’s past. Apparently, this is a key selling point for a player that restructured his contract shortly after arriving in New England.
“I felt like at this point I wasn’t at the stage in my career where I wanted to be a backup,” Bennett answered when asked about his desire to leave Philadelphia after only one year with the club. “I wanted to be in the game consistently, because I was still making high-impact plays. If you look at the numbers, I was still at the top of my game. I wasn’t looking to be third-string or something like that.”
In New England, Bennett will likely get a prominent role atop the club’s defensive edge rotation alongside returning veterans Deatrich Wise Jr. and John Simon as well as third-roudn rookie Chase Winovich. “I always feel like it was a good fit for me,” said Bennett. “Being on that team, I thought was a good fit for me, understanding how Belichick uses his players on defense and giving them matchups and different things like that — I thought it was a great opportunity.”
Bennett also was asked about his impression of the club as a whole and what separates it from the rest of the league. His answer speaks volumes about the culture and image the Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick have created over the past almost 20 years. “Every time you watch anything it’s always ‘do your job.’ Everybody does their job to win, nobody’s greater than the whole — everybody does what they’re supposed to do,” he answered.
“That’s why they don’t always have the best players on defense or the best players on offense, when you talk about statistics or numbers, but they always have the players that make the big plays at the big moment because they are doing their job,” Bennett concluded. Now, the veteran will join the ranks of those other players he is talking about — and potentially do what his brother Martellus also did: bring home a championship from the stint in New England.