The Patriots will have a number of important decisions to make regarding their own free agents at the end of the season, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the club will make Martellus Bennett a top offseason priority. Acquired earlier this year in a trade with the Bears, Bennett has been everything that the Patriots have hoped for, and they have been especially impressed with the way he has battled through injury. As Rapoport notes in another tweet, Bennett will be rewarded for his performance.
Bennett has put together a very strong and efficient season, nabbing 38 of 47 targets for 504 yards and four touchdowns. Given his production and durability, combined with Rob Gronkowski‘s persistent injury problems, it makes sense that the Patriots would seek to lock Bennett up on a long-term basis. Plus, after trading Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, and considering the struggles of Jabaal Sheard, there are fewer and fewer players that the Patriots will need to worry about re-signing at season’s end.
The tight end position is exceedingly important to the success of the Patriots’ offense, so it would not be a surprise to see Bennett land a lucrative multi-year deal even though New England is already paying Gronkowski $9MM per year (a contract that the team may also need to revisit). It is difficult to envision Bennett hitting that $9MM average annual value, but he could certainly be in line for a contract that pays him $7-8MM per year, which puts him alongside the likes of Greg Olsen and Dwayne Allen.
Now for a couple more notes out of Foxborough:
- Greg A. Bedard of SI.com explores how the Patriots can fix their defense, whose weaknesses were exposed by the Seahawks last week. Bedard believes the Pats need to evaluate rookie Elandon Roberts in the MLB role in the next three games, and if he struggles, Dont’a Hightower may have to return to a full-time MLB role. Also, New England will need to settle on a rotation at both end and tackle and sort out roles in the secondary.
- Mike Reiss of ESPN.com did not indicate that defensive coordinator Matt Patricia‘s job is in jeopardy, but given the quality of personnel on defense entering the year, Reiss believes it is fair to expect more from the unit, and it will be interesting to see how Patricia and his group respond in the coming weeks.
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