The New England Patriots have released tight end Martellus Bennett.
The New England Patriots house cleaning in preparation for free agency began this week. Defensive end Alan Branch was the first casualty, as his option for 2018 was not picked up. Wide receiver Kenny Britt did have his option picked up, so he will be with the team to begin the new league year.
Branch will not be the only Patriots player hitting free agency on March 14th. Today, he was joined by another teammate.
The release of Bennett is a move that was expected to happen. He was set to receive a $2 million roster bonus on March 14. Bennett was also due $3.6 million in his case salary and up to $2.6 million in incentives. For a player who is turning 31-years old on March 10th, the Patriots were unwilling to pay that.
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The Patriots are cash-strapped, as they are near the bottom of the NFL in salary cap room. With the release of Bennett, the Patriots are near $23 million in cap space according to Reiss.
Bennett’s reunion with New England didn’t last too long. He appeared in only two games, compiling six receptions for 53 yards in 24 snaps. He was placed on injured reserve after that with a hamstring injury.
Injuries were a big story surrounding Bennett last season. Bennett began the season with the Green Bay Packers, who waived him with a designation of failing to disclose a physical condition. Green Bay placed him on waivers intending to place him on injured reserve with a shoulder ailment, but the Patriots claimed him.
The saga was not over, as the Packers were attempting to recoup Bennett’s signing bonus, but it was turned down by an independent arbitrator. Green Bay plans to appeal says, Reiss.
Bennett will now hit the market again for a second consecutive season. He signed a three-year deal with Green Bay but didn’t even make it through his first season with the team.
With Bennett released, the Patriots opened up some more space to retain some of their own free agents. A lot of the Patriots available cap space will likely go toward Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis.
We could see more movement at tight end in the coming days. There are still rumors surrounding Gronkowski about his playing future. Allen is also due a hefty $4.5 million base salary, a lot for a player who had only 10 receptions last season.