WEDNESDAY, 6:16pm: A day after sending defensive end Chandler Jones to Arizona, the Patriots have agreed to another trade. This time, New England will receive tight end Martellus Bennett from the Bears in exchange for draft-pick compensation, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets.
The Patriots will give up a fourth-round selection and get a sixth-rounder back, according to Tom Curran of CSNNE (Twitter link). Specifically, the Bears will receive the 127th choice this year in exchange for No. 204, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
In acquiring Bennett, the Patriots will add another major threat at the tight end position to accompany superstar Rob Gronkowski. Bennett, 29, has been a prolific pass catcher throughout his eight-year career, having hauled in 348 receptions and 23 touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 273-pounder, like the 6-6, 265-pound Gronkowski, possesses great size. Bennett also has a positive track record of production, having eclipsed the 50-catch mark in four straight seasons. He added personal highs in receptions (90), yardage (916) and touchdowns (six) in 2014 en route to his only Pro Bowl trip.
Bennett’s numbers declined last season to 53 grabs, a paltry 8.3 yards-per-catch average and three TDs in 11 games. But he’ll nonetheless serve as an upgrade over the Pats’ previous second tight end, Scott Chandler, and give them their most talented TE duo since the Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez tandem. Chandler, whom New England released earlier this winter, was due to count upward of $3MM on its cap in 2016 after a 23-catch season. Bennett carries a cap charge of over $5MM next season, the last year of his contract. The Pats are also responsible for his $100K workout bonus.
Trading Bennett will leave Chicago with $1.125MM in dead money, but the fact that the team is moving on from him comes as no surprise. As of earlier this month, the Bears were said to be working on dealing Bennett. Further, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), they had been trying to trade Bennett for 18 months. In the wake of his Pro Bowl season, Bennett skipped the Bears’ voluntary OTAs last spring in hopes of landing a raise and an extension. That didn’t work, however, and the emergence of Zach Miller in the Bears’ offense last season made Bennett even more expendable to Chicago. The Bears re-signed Miller to a two-year, $6MM deal earlier this week, further sealing Bennett’s fate in the Windy City.
Meanwhile, after a quiet start to the offseason, the Patriots have had an action-packed week. Prior to acquiring Bennett, they signed receiver Chris Hogan, landed a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper in the Jones trade, and came to terms with defensive end Chris Long on a low-cost deal.
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