Martellus Bennett claimed off waivers by the Patriots


Bennett is headed back to New England to play out the season.

Martellus Bennett’s unemployment didn’t last long. He’s headed back to New England as the newest member of the Patriots, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bennett was waived by the Packers on Wednesday after he failed to report a medical condition to the team. It’s a torn rotator cuff, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Bennett may be able to play through the injury. If he can’t, the Patriots lose nothing by placing him on injured reserve.

Head coach Mike McCarthy had kind words for his former player on Thursday.

Bennett said in October that he planned to retire following the 2017 season. That, along with the undisclosed medical condition, raised questions about Bennett’s future once he hit the waiver wire.

The Packers expected Bennett to be an upgrade over Jared Cook, who signed with the Raiders as a free agent over the offseason. Bennett played in all 16 games for the Patriots last year, finishing with 701 yards and seven touchdowns.

But nobody could predict that Aaron Rodgers would land on injured reserve with a broken collarbone. And Bennett didn’t make that much of an impact even when Rodgers was healthy. Bennett had 24 catches and 233 yards over seven games with Green Bay.

Now Bennett heads back to the team he won a Super Bowl with following the 2016 season. And he won’t cost the Patriots much. The Packers have already paid Bennett’s signing bonus, roster bonus, and half of his base salary for 2017. The Patriots will pay Bennett a little under $450,000 for the rest of the season.

His contract is structured in such a way that the team can walk away before the new league year begins and not take on any dead money. And that seems likely, considering Bennett’s plan to retire after the season.

Bennett had great rapport with Tom Brady during the 2016 season. The Patriots’ receiving corps is pretty banged up, with Chris Hogan battling through a shoulder injury and Danny Amendola rehabbing a knee.

Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league, but he’s always an injury risk. And Dwayne Allen doesn’t have a single catch over eight games with New England. Bennett should be able to come in and contribute right away, if he’s healthy.

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