Bennett on potential last game with Patriots: 'It's a glorious end to a movie'

Bennett on potential last game with Patriots: 'It's a glorious end to a movie'

HOUSTON -- Among the many things Martellus Bennett discussed at his Opening Night were his former teams. Reporters from the various cities were there and they asked about his past stops, so he answered. 


Mentally, he wasn’t in the right place to enjoy Dallas. He loved Jerry Jones and countless teammates, but the situation “wasn’t a good fit.” The Giants he adored, especially the team’s kitchen food, which was “so delicious” and a legitimate selling point when he signed. The Bears brought not team success, but individual numbers. Though he plans on living in Chicago the rest of his life, he admitted he became “the disgruntled athlete.”

It was a time of genuine reflection and reminiscence, but it also put an elephant in a room that already had a Kel Mitchell and PFT Commenter running around it: What might he say next year about New England? 

Super Bowl LI is the final game of Bennett’s contract. After that, he’ll be a free agent and could turn one of the best seasons of his career into a payday somewhere else. 

The fact that he held out in Chicago before the 2015 shows that he, as every player should, places a priority on maximizing his earnings. He reportedly turned down an extension with the Patriots worth $7 million annually prior to the season. Though a longterm stay in New England shouldn’t be ruled out -- especially if the Patriots have questions about Rob Gronkowski’s ability to play 16 games a season -- Bennett knows this week could be his last with the Pats. 

“This was the first real week of thinking about it. Everything’s coming to an end, but it’s a glorious end to a movie,” he said. “The climax couldn’t be any better. You think about it, but that would make this week a little more special because it could be the last one with this group of guys, so just enjoy every single moment and think about what we’ve been through to get to where we are as a team and an organization is awesome.”

Bennett was asked by Mike Giardi whether he would be OK with staying under the franchise tag. 

“Sure,” Bennett replied. “All my dollars would be guaranteed.”

Bennett came to New England with questions as to why someone with his talent was on his fourth team at age 29. He’s been on his best behavior this year, becoming a fan favorite and media magnet by providing a bunch of receiving yards (701), touchdowns (seven) and interesting analogies. 

Between that and his ability to play the full season (he missed the final five games in 2015 with a rib injury), Bennet’s stock is probably higher than it was when it cost just a fifth-round pick to get him along with a sixth-rounder. Whether that stock makes his next deal bigger than the Patriots are willing to spend remains to be seen. 

So Bennett could have the perfect one-and-done like Darrelle Revis did in 2014, or his first and potentially only season in New England could end in unfinished business. Would either make him more at peace with leaving? 

“I don’t know what my peace is like until that moment in time,” he said. “Eckhart Tolle: ‘The Power of Now.’”

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

File Photo

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

There's one gigantic hole to fill on the Patriots offensive line.

Replacing Nate Solder is no easy task and it's not exactly clear how the Pats will yet.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was first to report the Patriots would like to bring back Waddle or Fleming.

It now appears that one of the former backup tackle is taking a serious look elsewhere, according to Ian Rapoport. 

It's not the best offensive line free agency market this season, so the Pats may prefer to bring back a guy they are familar with.

If Fleming is off the board, Waddle still remains as an option for New England.



How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

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How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

How highly do the Patriots value their mid-round draft picks? We'll find out as the run on NFL free agents continues this week. 

If Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio plan to make any signings from outside the organization, they'll have to factor into that decision what they will be giving up. Money and cap space matter . . . sure. But there is draft capital at stake.  

The Patriots are currently projected to land two third-round compensatory picks in 2019 after losing both Malcolm Butler and Nate Solder in free agency. There's real value there, and the decision-makers at One Patriot Place may be reluctant to give that up. 

Recent Patriots third-round picks include Derek Rivers, Tony Garcia, Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Vincent Valentine, Geneo Grissom, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan. 


Before we get into how the Patriots might lose those third-round comp picks if they remain active in free-agency, it's worth noting how comp picks are assigned. 

The compensatory-pick formula the league uses has never been published, but we know the basics. It's based on free agents lost and free agents acquired in a given year by a particular team. The level of those players is taken into consideration -- based on salary, playing time and other factors -- and then picks are issued to teams who have lost more (or better) free agents than they acquired. Only free agents whose contracts have expired (not players who've been released) qualify for the compensatory-pick formula.'s Nick Korte is the best in the business when it comes to predicting how many picks teams will land based on their free-agent losses and acquisitions, and he has the Patriots down for two third-rounders in 2019 and nothing else. 

That may sound surprising given the Patriots lost Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola in addition to Butler and Solder, but that's the way the formula broke, according to Korte. The Adrian Clayborn signing (given a sixth-round value by OTC) cancelled out the Amendola loss (sixth-round value). The Matt Tobin signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Lewis loss (sixth-round value). And the Jeremy Hill signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Johnson Bademosi loss (sixth-round value). 

Why do Tobin and Hill cancel out Amendola and Lewis, despite being lower-value moves? Here's how OTC describes the process. (Free agents who qualify for the comp-pick formula are known as Compensatory Free Agents or CFAs.)

1. A CFA gained by a team cancels out the highest-valued available CFA lost that has the same round valuation of the CFA gained.

2. If there is no available CFA lost in the same round as the CFA gained, the CFA gained will instead cancel out the highest-available CFA lost with a lower round value.

3. A CFA gained will only cancel out a CFA lost with a higher draft order if there are no other CFAs lost available to cancel out. 

That final point is key. An example? The Seahawks recently signed CFA Jaron Brown, a seventh-round value. The only Seahawks "CFAs lost" available to cancel out the move were Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, both fourth-round values. Even though there's a three-round difference between Brown and Richardson, per Korte's projections, those moves still will cancel each other out. 

With that in mind, the Patriots may want to tread lightly when it comes to signing free agents who will qualify toward the comp-pick formula. They could lose out on the third-rounders they've received for Solder and Butler even if they sign a lower-value free agent.

Players like Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro or Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman would count toward the comp-pick formula. Would their value to the team be such that losing a 2019 third-round pick wouldn't matter to the Patriots? Or would their comp-pick impact hurt their chances of being picked up in New England? My guess would be the latter. 

The good news for the Patriots is that re-signing their own players -- like offensive tackles LaAdrian Waddle and/or Cam Fleming -- doesn't impact the comp-pick setup. Neither does signing players who've been released, meaning the Patriots could theoretically make a splash by signing Ndamukong Suh or Eric Ebron and they'd retain their comp picks.

Given the Patriots made just four draft picks last year, and since comp picks can be traded now (that rule was changed last year), it would come as little surprise if retaining those picks weighed heavily on Belichick and Caserio's decisions as they move through the remainder of the offseason.