Martellus Bennett is among the many Patriots players in the middle of a contract year, and he's handled it with aplomb.
He made just one catch for 14 yards in Sunday's win over the 49ers, but he has yet to miss a game this season despite dealing with a nagging ankle issue. He's also proven to be a true dual-threat tight end who can change games as a receiver or a blocker.
The marriage between the Patriots and the 29-year-old they received in an offseason trade has gone swimmingly, and the team is making him an "offseason priority" to re-sign, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
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Asked about his contract on Sunday night, Bennett said he wasn't worried about his next deal.
"My money’s good," Bennett told reporters. "I’m just going through every game and playing football. When they address it, they address it. If they don’t, I’m not really worried about it. I have a diverse portfolio, so I’m not really tripping about that. I’m not really worried about that right now. I’m just trying to make plays and continue to play really good football."
His approach echoes what he told CSN earlier this season. After a three-touchdown performance against the Browns in Week 5, I asked him if he wanted to be in New England for the foreseeable future.
"I haven't thought about that," Bennett said at the time. "I've just kind of been enjoying . . . I'm at a point in my life where I'm just living in the moment now. Each day. Every day. You can ask any guy in here. Each day is a brand new day for me, and I'm just happy to be alive. Just happy to be living and have another chance to do all the things that I love.
"For me, I haven't even thought about that. It's not something I want to think about, really. I just want to enjoy each game with my teammates and my friends on this team and go out there and ball."
Bennett will make $5.085 million in base salary this season and could be expensive to keep around for the next few years, even at 30 years old and entering his 10th NFL season in 2017.
One possible comparison for Bennett's next deal? Panthers tight end Greg Olsen signed a three-year, $22.5 million extension with $12 million guaranteed and an average annual value of $7.5 million during the 2015 offseason, just before his 30th birthday. Given their similarities in age and durability -- Olsen has missed just two games in his career, while Bennett has missed only nine -- that could be the kind of deal Bennett is considering come season's end.
That deal would also slot Bennett's average annual value below that of his teammate and Patriots No. 1 tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is under contract through 2019 and making an average of $9 million per year.
When the topic of a new contract was broached during our conversation last month, Bennett said it hasn't been all that difficult to keep thoughts about the future on the back burner.
"I think it's a little easier to have [that approach] in this environment than it is in other environments," he said. "I don't know why. It just felt that way just from the beginning. It's a good fit. Sometimes you put on a size 36 when you know you're a 38. But some jeans fit and some jeans it's like, 'Whoa! This s--- don't fit!'
"I'm not worried about it. I only play football because it's fun. I don't have to play football. This is just fun. I'm having a lot of fun. This is why I play the game, to have fun. I mean, you play to win, but s---, ultimately, what's a sport that's not fun? If you can't go out there with your bros, like growing up, and just play football like in high school or pick-up? That's fun. And I don't take that for granted because they don't come around as often as you think."