Now that WTP Sports has broken the news that Gronk is staying next year, the question is whether or not Martellus Bennett is going to be here next year. Keeping him should be a no-brainer for the Patriots. He’s already under contract and has a salary that only counts just over $6M against the cap. He also gives the Patriots something that they have come to treasure, which is having an effective second receiving option from the tight end position.
The Patriots tried to replace Bennett’s production in 2016 with Dwayne Allen this year, and that was a disaster. Allen is a fine player, but his skills never materialized on the field this year. He finished the season with 10 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown on the season. With Gronk being such a monster, he requires the attention of the defense, which opens up possibilities for a second tight end. Bennett would fill that void extremely well. He has been on the team for parts of two seasons, but there is a very small sample size of Brady, Gronk, and Bennett all playing together.
There have only been 7 games where they have all started. The Patriots have a record of 6-1 in those games, with the one loss being against the Seahawks in 2016, the game that ended Gronk’s season. In their 6 wins, they have an average margin of victory of 19 points, and in the 7 games, they scored an average of 33 points per game. Bennett finished 2016 with 55 receptions for 701 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Gronk finished 2017 with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns. This is almost totally without another capable receiving tight end on the roster. Imagine what their stats might be if they were able to play a full season together.
The two biggest question marks with Marty is his injury history, and his presence in the locker room. There were rumors coming out at the end of the season last year that people were a little sick of Marty’s act, and were ready for him to move on. He certainly has a very strong personality, but the guys seem to like him, for the most part, and so hopefully that will not end up being an issue. The injury problems are something that has plagued Gronk as well, and what it comes down to is that the talent outweighs the injury concern. That’s the feeling I get with Bennett. Yes, it’s possible he gets hurt again, but the potential for greatness from the offense is enough for me to want to take that chance.
There’s always rumors flying about the Patriots acquiring another wide receiver, but this year, they could improve just by keeping Bennett. They’re already adding Edelman and Mitchell back into a receiving core that includes Amendola and Cooks. Adding two healthy tight ends to that mix would make the Patriots offense close to unstoppable. So when Marty’s roster bonus comes due in March, the Patriots need to pick it up.
Pat is the host of the Weekend Warrior Podcast
You can find him on Twitter @wtplane or @wkndwarpod