New England Patriots 2016 Player Grade: Martellus Bennett
By Matty Simo
The New England Patriots picked up Martellus Bennett in a trade with the Chicago Bears. He proved to be a good insurance policy for Rob Gronkowski in 2016.
Tight end Martellus Bennett was one of two veteran players acquired by the New England Patriots solely for 2016. Bennett and defensive end Chris Long both arrived in New England hoping to win a Super Bowl ring. However, only Long chose his fate as a free agent.
Bennett came to the Patriots via a trade with the Chicago Bears last offseason. The price? A fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for Bennett and a sixth-round pick that year. Not bad at all considering he would become the team’s starting tight end in Week 1. While he was essentially a one-year rental playing out his contract, things worked out well for him.
With regular starter Rob Gronkowski sidelined the first two weeks of the regular season due to a hamstring injury, Bennett was the man. In the first four games sans Tom Brady, Bennett totaled 15 catches for 247 yards and scored one touchdown. Then in Brady’s first game back from his suspension, Bennett had six receptions for 67 yards and scored three touchdowns in a win over the Cleveland Browns.
Even though Bennett would not score again until Week 14, he was invaluable as a blocker and teamed with Gronkowski for eight games to form a dangerous tandem. Gronkowski suffered another injury to his back versus the New York Jets and opted for season-ending surgery, missing all of December and the playoffs.
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Bennett filled in nicely for Gronkowski the rest of the way, scoring touchdowns in three of the last four regular-season games. He finished with 55 receptions for 701 yards and a career-high seven scores after playing in all 16 games for the sixth time.
But more importantly, Bennett made the playoffs for the first time in his nine-year career. He had 11 more catches in three postseason games for 98 yards and earned a Super Bowl ring in the process. Not bad considering the Bears went 3-13 in 2016.