Patriots Improve Offense by Trading For Martellus Bennett
Ever since Aaron Hernandez was arrested due to a murder investigation, the New England Patriots have been searching for a competent running mate for star tight end Rob Gronkowski. They may have finally found him.
Per reports, the Patriots have agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bears, which will send disgruntled star tight end Martellus Bennett to Foxboro. In return, Chicago acquires a fourth round draft pick, while also giving up a sixth round draft choice to New England in the process.
Bears make it official: acquire 4th-round (#127 overall) pick from Patriots for TE Martellus Bennett and a 6th-round (#204 overall) pick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 17, 2016
Bennett is still just 29 years old and while he dealt with some injuries in 2015, still exhibits red-zone and chain-moving potential as a receiver. Bennett is not in the mold of what Aaron Hernandez used to be for the Pats, but he does bring some size and athleticism to the table. More importantly, he brings talent to a position that has lacked it behind the often injured “Gronk”.
New England has tried and failed to backup Gronkowski in the past, and last year’s experiment with Scott Chandler is arguably as good as it’s been since Hernandez went to prison.
Bennett’s arrival is without a doubt their best situation yet, and also could allow them to free things up elsewhere. That could mean the departure of slot receiver Danny Amendola, or it could at least position the Pats to demand a pay decrease.
While Bennett alone doesn’t change New England’s fortunes dramatically, he does offer two things experts might not point too right away: blocking and depth.
Should Gronkowski suffer another injury (he missed 15 games in 2012 and 2013), Bennett would be able to fill-in at a high level, both as a receiver and blocker. An adept blocker, Bennett will also be a tough cover as the team’s #2 tight end and will also be called upon to give the running game a boost. That could be more crucial than ever, too, considering how shaky New England’s offensive line looked a season ago.
Unleash Zach Miller?
On the flip-side, the Bears benefit immensely from this deal, as well. While Bennett was a solid offensive weapon, he was becoming a distraction and his presence was keeping Zach Miller from blossoming.
Bennett’s departure not only sheds some unwanted salary and brings in a 4th round draft pick, but it also gives Miller his first full shot at being a starting tight end. Miller appeared to relish the opportunity in 2015, filling in for a banged up Bennett on occasion and actually thriving. After showing solid chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler, the athletic Miller could be gearing up for a breakout campaign. The team also brought in athletic tight end Rob Housler, and the two could compete for the #1 tight end spot for 2016.
The move is not massive in the NFL betting world, as the Chicago Bears lose a key part of their passing game and really aren’t a playoff contender at this point.
New England remains a title contender with or without Bennett, but having a second quality tight end option certainly boosts their offense and could make it more versatile – especially near the red-zone. It also protects them in the event of a Rob Gronkowski injury, which now would not cripple their Super Bowl hopes.
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