Martellus Bennett

Martellus Bennett Announces Retirement

Tight end Martellus Bennett announced on his Twitter account (link) that’s he’s “moving on” from football after a 10-year career in the NFL. Though Bennett never used the word “retire” in his Twitter post, he confirmed in to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero that he is retiring from the league. 

“I’ve decided to move on from the world of football and into the fantastical and wondrous world of creativity,” Bennett said in a Twitter message. “I’m beginning what I believe to be my life’s work.”

In a mid-season Instagram post while with the Packers, Bennett said he anticipated this past season would be his last. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported last month that Bennett intended on returning for the 2018 season.

Bennett, 31, appeared in seven games for the Packers last season before being waived and picked up by the Patriots. The Patriots released Bennett earlier this month after he ended the season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He totaled 30 catches for 286 yards receiving without a touchdown catch this past season between his time with the Packers and Patriots.

The Cowboys originally took Bennett in the second round of the 2008 draft out of Texas A&M. He spent four years with the Cowboys before playing a season with the Giants and then four with the Bears. Bennett’s Pro Bowl campaign came with the Bears in 2014 when he tallied career highs in receptions (90) and receiving yards (996) while catching six touchdowns. He had appeared in at least 14 games in eight of his first nine seasons before appearing in just nine last year.

It’s been an eventful day for the Bennett family. Earlier Friday, Michael Bennett was indicted on felony charges in Texas for his involvement in an incident at NRG Stadium during Super Bowl LI.

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Patriots Made Best Offer For Bennett?

Michael Bennett is preparing to trek to Philadelphia and join the defending Super Bowl champions, but the Eagles’ most recent opponent made a strong push to bring the defensive end to New England.

The Patriots are believed to have made a last-ditch effort to acquire Bennett from the Seahawks, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports they did so after the team had essentially completed their deal with the Eagles.

It’s unclear precisely what the Patriots offered, but it’s believed to have been better than the fifth-round pick/Marcus Johnson package the Seahawks will receive from the Eagles. Diana Russini of ESPN reported on Wednesday a third team stalled this deal, and the Patriots — one of a few additional teams interested in Bennett — look to have been the team that did so.

However, the Seahawks did not want to go back on a verbal agreement with the Eagles. The sides finalized the trade on Tuesday morning, per Rapoport. And Martellus Bennett, whom the Patriots are cutting, was ready to reduce his salary to help make room for his brother, Rapoport reports.

The Bennett brothers were going nuts trying to get it somehow so they could play together on the Patriots,” Rapoport said during an appearance on NFL Up to the Minute. “I know Martellus Bennett was talking about taking less salary, trying to stick around so the Patriots could then trade for his brother. … Now, from what I am told, this was basically done, a done deal between the Seahawks and Eagles. Then the Patriots came in late and said ‘Well, maybe we’ll give you this’ — a little bit better draft-pick compensation.

The problem was the deal was basically already done. … The Seahawks are honorable people and they did the deal that was basically consummated earlier.”

So, rather than deal with their Super Bowl XLIX opponent, the Seahawks opted to send the 32-year-old defensive end to a conference team, thus denying the Bennett brothers a chance to play on the same team for the first time since their days at Texas A&M.

The Patriots did manage to increase their sack numbers last season compared to their 2016 effort, but Bennett would have provided a clear upgrade for a team that’s steadily seen some core edge components stripped.

Patriots To Release Martellus Bennett

Big changes are on the horizon for both Bennett brothers. The Patriots are releasing tight end Martellus Bennett, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). 

The move will create about $6MM in salary cap space for New England, bringing their total cap space up around $23MM. That flexibility is hugely important for the Pats as they explore new deals for tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver Danny Amendola.

Bennett was due a $2MM roster bonus on March 14, putting the Pats in a tough position. Although he is immensely talented, Bennett did very little for the Packers (who were burned on an expensive free agent deal) and Pats in 2017.

Bennett will garner plenty of attention on the open market, but questions persist about his commitment to football and his abrupt exit from New England. For his part, Bennett wants to continue playing in 2018.

Bennett, who turns 31 on Saturday, had a great year for the Patriots in 2016, tallying 55 receptions for 701 yards and seven touchdowns.

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NFC Notes: Saints, Mathieu, 49ers, Packers

The Saints may be in the market for some offensive skill players, but it sounds like they’re going to avoid one of the top trade options. Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com writes that the team will not make a trade for Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry.

The writer notes that the team expressed interest in the wideout during the combine this past week. Considering the Saints would have to give up assets in a trade and tolerate his franchise tag ($16MM), the team ultimately decided that it would cost too much to add a “luxury” piece to their core. The team is already rostering offensive playmakers like Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and Ted Ginn Jr.. However, Katzenstein believes the Saints will ultimately be in the market for a free agent wide receiver or tight end.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora tweets that he’d be surprised if safety Tyrann Mathieu was back with the Cardinals next season. The 25-year-old had a tongue-in-cheek reply to the tweet, asking “anybody gonna tell me anything?” Mathieu started all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017, finishing with 78 tackles, seven passes defended, and two interceptions. The safety’s cap hit in 2018 will exceed $14MM.
  • ESPN’s Nick Wagoner has some additional details (via Twitter) on Garry Gilliam‘s new contract with the 49ers. In 2018, the offensive lineman will earn a $1.75MM base salary, along with a $400K roster bonus. Gilliam can also earn up to $500K in per-game bonuses and another $50K via a workout bonus, all leading to a $2.45MM cap hit. In 2019, the cap number jumps to $5.05MM, but only $1.5MM of his $4.5MM base salary is guaranteed for injury only.
  • Earlier this week, we learned that an arbitrator had ruled against the Packers in their effort to recoup a portion of Martellus Bennett‘s $6.3MM signing bonus. Writing for the team’s website, CEO Mark Murphy said the team plans on appealing the decision. “We think the decision was flawed and plan to appeal,” Murphy wrote. “The appeals go to a panel of three arbitrators.” The CEO told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that the team “lost their bid to recoup signing bonus money in part because the Patriots claimed Bennett off waivers and therefore picked up his contract.”

Packers Won’t Recoup Bennett’s Bonus

An arbitrator has ruled against the Packers in their effort to recoup a portion of Martellus Bennett‘s $6.3MM signing bonus, Mike Florio of PFT tweets. Because the Packers waived Bennett and his contract was assumed by another team (the Patriots), the arbitrator deemed that Green Bay is unable to recover the money given to the tight end at the time of signing. Martellus Bennett (vertical)

The Packers, with the support of the league office, argued that Bennett should refund his signing bonus because he had not disclosed a pre-existing shoulder injury to the team last year. Even Bennett did keep his rotator cuff tear under wraps, the Packers did not have a clear path to get their money back after the Pats assumed his deal.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the Patriots will do with the contract that they hold with Bennett. The veteran only played in two games for the Patriots before landing on IR, but he is reportedly intent on playing in 2018. His contract calls for a $6.2MM cap hit this year and the Patriots must pay him a $2MM roster bonus if he’s still on the team on March 14.

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Patriots’ Bennett Wants To Continue Playing

Last year, tight end Martellus Bennett told the Packers that he was planning on retiring after the season. As a result, the Packers released Bennett midway through the year, paving the way for the Patriots to claim him. The change of scenery has apparently changed his plans as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears that Bennett wants to continue playing. Martellus Bennett

Whether the Patriots will seek to move forward with him, however, is unclear. Bennett is due a $2MM roster bonus on March 14, so New England may look to cut bait before that date. Meanwhile, his $6.2MM cap hit isn’t exorbitant and could be worthwhile if he is healthy and fully committed to football.

Bennett had a great year for the Patriots in 2016, hauling in 55 receptions for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Packers, he didn’t deliver after signing a three-year, $21MM deal with them in free agency. In seven games, he had just 24 receptions, 233 yards, and zero touchdowns. Some in Green Bay believed that Bennett starting phoning it in after Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, which led the team to bail on him in November. The Patriots had Bennett on the field for two weeks before having to place him on IR.

The Patriots need to make two determinations. The first is whether Bennett is able to play and wants to play. If the answer to both is yes, the second is taking a guess at his free agent value. If the Pats see Bennett getting less than $6.2MM on the open market – which is quite possible since the perception is that he quit on the Packers – there could be room to negotiate.

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Packers Attempting To Recoup Martellus Bennett Signing Bonus

Less than a month after cutting Martellus Bennett, the Packers are attempting to recover some of the signing bonus they paid the then-coveted tight end in free agency.

The Packers filed paperwork to reclaim $4.2MM of Bennett’s $6.3MM signing bonus on Thursday, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. They waived Bennett with a “Failure to Disclose a Physical Condition” designation, leading to this decision — one that was in the works. Bennett’s bonus was to be spread over the life of his three-year, $21MM deal, creating the $4.2MM figure now in dispute.

Bennett alleged the Packers were well aware of his shoulder problem, reportedly a torn rotator cuff, dating back to when he signed. He said it worsened while in Green Bay and criticized a team doctor for convincing him to put off a surgery he reportedly was told by independent physicians he needed. Other Packers, present and past, came to Dr. Pat McKenzie’s defense, and Clay Matthews — per Demovsky — said he and his teammates “got a good laugh” when Bennett suited up for the Patriots during his first game back with them after sitting out that previous Monday with the Packers because of the shoulder malady.

The 30-year-old tight end is now on IR after suffering a hamstring injury, and he will undergo shoulder surgery. Bennett passed a Patriots physical, and the league office didn’t have any issues with how the pass-catcher’s team change went down.

The NFLPA is aware of this situation, Demovsky reports, adding an arbitrator is expected to review this matter before next season because of salary cap purposes.

The Packers could have gone after Bennett’s entire bonus, but Demovsky notes him playing in seven games with Green Bay makes only seeking the remaining $4.2MM a stronger case. With Bennett’s bonus on their books, the Packers are projected to have more than $43MM in cap space in 2018. Bennett said earlier this season he was considering retirement at its conclusion.

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Patriots To Place Martellus Bennett On IR

Martellus Bennett‘s controversial exit from Green Bay led to two games with the Patriots. Those look like the only two Bennett will play for New England this season.

Bennett has been battling a shoulder injury all season, and the Patriots are set to place the veteran tight end on IR, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe tweets.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com also reports (on Twitter) the tight end is headed for IR and surgery, noting a hamstring problem may be the bigger reason behind this move. Rapoport adds Bennett will have shoulder surgery, at long last.

Bennett has been dealing with a tear in one of his hamstrings, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets, noting he’d planned to play through the rotator cuff and labrum problems he’d dealt with in his shoulder since last season.

The Packers waived Bennett earlier this month, and the 30-year-old pass-catcher accused the team of attempting to convince him to avoid having a surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff he said worsened this season. He passed a Pats physical, clearing the way for the defending Super Bowl champions’ waiver claim, and played Week 10 and Week 11, catching six passes for 53 yards. With his season likely being finished, Bennett will close with 286 air yards and no touchdowns.

After a season in which Bennett became the team’s primary tight end after a Rob Gronkowski injury, the Patriots are in better shape at tight end. They still have Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen healthy.

Bennett also said earlier this season he would likely retire at its conclusion. There are two years remaining on Bennett’s deal. Bennett being on the Pats’ roster as of March 14 triggers a $2MM bonus, so the Pats will make a decision on the pass-catcher before free agency, Howe tweets.

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Chiefs Mulled Claiming TE Martellus Bennett

The Chiefs contemplated putting in a waiver claim for tight end Martellus Bennett after he was cut by the Packers last week, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.Martellus Bennett (Vertical)

“We looked at that as a potential (move),” head coach Andy Reid said. “(But) he’s in a good place. It worked out good for him.”

Bennett, of course, was eventually claimed by the Patriots, but his presence in Kansas City would have been an interesting proposition. Like New England, the Chiefs boast one of the league’s best tight ends (Travis Kelce), so Bennett wouldn’t have been an immediate starter. More likely, he would’ve taken the role of third-stringer Ross Travis , who’s played only 70 total snaps in 2017, joining Demetrius Harris as Kelce’s backups.

Bennett’s salary wouldn’t have been a problem for the Chiefs in 2017, as any club could have absorbed the remainder of Bennett’s $900K base. But Bennett’s 2018 salary would have almost certainly led Kansas City to release Bennett before the start of next season, as the Chiefs currently project to have fewer than $2MM in 2018 cap space.

Reid didn’t elaborate on Kansas City’s decision to not place a claim on Bennett, but the club likely had reservations about Bennett’s injured shoulder. The Patriots were the only team to put a claim in on Bennett, but the NFL doesn’t plan to investigate the veteran tight end’s reunion with New England.

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Latest On Patriots, Martellus Bennett

Martellus Bennett‘s unusual exit from the Packers and reunion with the Patriots raised some eyebrows in the football world. However, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart says the league office does not have any issues with how things played out (Twitter link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe).

The Packers signed Bennett to a lucrative multi-year deal with the expectation that he would be a big, steady target for Aaron Rodgers in the red zone. Instead, Bennett never clicked with the Packers offense, perhaps due in part to his torn rotator cuff. After he intimated that he would retire after the 2017 season, the Packers released Bennett, opening the door for him to be claimed by his former team. It doesn’t take an Alex Jones-level conspiracy theorist to question whether Bennett might have orchestrated his own return to New England, but the commissioner’s office doesn’t share that same skepticism.

After he was cut loose, Bennett instructed his agent to inform interested teams that he might not be able to play due to his injured shoulder. Then, on Sunday, Bennett was on the field for seven snaps and caught three balls for 38 yards. He looked rather healthy in the 41-16 romp over Denver, and that didn’t help to quiet speculation about a potential pre-release arrangement between Bennett and the Patriots.

It’s a closed case in the eyes of the NFL, but the Packers may still go after a portion of Bennett’s signing bonus.

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