What are the Patriots’ intentions with Michael Bennett?
With a decreased snap count each week since the start of the season, are the New England Patriots looking to fade-away from Michael Bennett?
The New England Patriots brought in Michael Bennett this offseason and gave him a two-year $16.75M contract extension. The team gave up a 2020 fifth-round draft pick to help fill the void of Trey Flowers and strengthen their defensive front.
Michael Bennett has had the reputation as a “Bad-Ass” defensive end in the NFL for a long time. I think he’s most memorable for his days with the Seattle Seahawks. In 2015, the three-time Pro Bowler had his best season, in which he had 10 sacks. Bennett was also part of the 2013 Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning team.
Bennett was playing on 69% of the defensive snaps last season for the Philadelphia Eagles. This season with the Pats, Bennett is finding himself playing in just 40% of the defensive snaps. Last night against the Giants, he saw 11 snaps. Bennett has seen a decreased snap count each week since the 2019 season has started.
I doubt the Pats acquired Bennett to use as a defensive decoy for the next two seasons. It seems odd that he isn’t playing as much this season as we’re all accustomed to. But since the Patriots defense is shaping up to be one of the best in NFL history, I guess the old saying is true: “Don’t fix something that isn’t broken.”
The Patriots cut Ben Watson to save money ($2M) and potentially use that money towards another offensive weapon for Tom Brady. I think the argument could be made that since Michael Bennett isn’t being utilized to his potential, the Patriots should look into moving on from him.
I think the team could greatly benefit from adding another wide receiver or tight end. Parting ways from Bennett would give the Pats an additional $6.5M in cap space. This would then give the team more of an option to acquire an offensive weapon, as there could potentially be $8.5M in cap space.
I’m sure Bennett would prefer and appreciate more snaps going his way. When he was asked about his role on the team, he responded by calling himself the “zero role,” according to USA Today’s Henry McKenna. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before we start to hear Bennett speak up about the situation.
When asked about Bennett’s usage thus far, Bill Belichick had this to say, again via McKenna:
"“Michael’s a smart player. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s been in a lot of different systems, so he’s kind of adapting to our system.”"
The Pats are getting the same type of production and more from guys like Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy, and Danny Shelton. With or without Bennett, the defense is stacked and has plenty of depth throughout the entire unit… unlike the offense that is struggling to score points against teams like the New York Jets and New York Giants.
All in all, I think the Patriots should look into moving on from Bennett and acquiring a wide receiver or tight end, or maybe even both. Whatever the case may be, the way the offense is currently running won’t get the job done this season. Regardless of the defense being amazing, the offense needs to be able to put points on the board.
With the deadline approaching in a couple of weeks, it’ll be interesting to see what the team does to assure themselves of a winning season by their own lofty standards of greatness.