This morning, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out the following about TE Bennett:
Bennett is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. When the Pats traded for him before the season started, there was question about how long he’d actually be here, considering his contract situation. It turns out New England wants him here long-term.
Bennett, who’s currently 29, has 38 receptions for 504 yards and four touchdowns so far this season. He’s been an incredible addition to this team. When Gronk has been injured, Bennett has filled in as well as anyone could. He’s done exactly what he’s needed to do, and that’s all we could ask for. Bennett has provided insurance at the TE position. When Gronk is healthy, Bennett has been a tremendous complement to him, as well.
With Gronk out for today’s game against San Francisco with a lung issue, we should see Bennett fill in as he did for the first few weeks of the season earlier this year. Though, Bennett is dealing with an ankle injury, he is expected to play through it, as he has done for lots of this season already. That’s another logical reason as to why NE wants to keep him here for the future: his toughness.
The Patriots are already set up for a busy offseason, with guys like Malcolm Butler, Dont’a Hightower and LeGarrette Blount all free agents, as well. Hightower and Butler in particular are looking for a good chunk of change from the Patriots in a few months. That asks the question: just how high of a priority is re-signing Bennett on their list? With sending Jamie Collins away and a now seemingly useless Jabaal Sheard, signing both Hightower and Butler should be top priorities. It will be interesting to see how high Bennett is on that list.
I can see New England wanting to have Bennett around for the foreseeable future, which makes sense. Through only ten weeks of play with his new team, he’s had a huge impact in Foxboro. He played with Dallas for the first few years, the Giants for a year and previously played in Chicago, and has already said that he’s had the most fun playing football with New England. Having two of the best tight ends in all of football that love what they do where they are is never a bad thing. The Patriots shouldn't have much of an issue signing Hightower, Butler and Bennett to some big bucks come springtime.