Au revoir to the most interesting tight end in the world, Martellus Bennett. Hi, Dwayne Allen.
The Patriots made a quick, proactive strike at tight end on Wednesday, shoring up the tight end position in the expectation that Bennett – who had a nice 2016 with the Patriots after coming aboard in a trade with the Bears – is going to seeker greener green in free agency.
Dwayne Allen, a free agent last year who’ll be on the books for $4.937M in 2017, was acquired in exchange for a fourth-rounder. The Patriots also got a sixth-rounder.
Before looking at the football side of things, the financial landscape at tight end is interesting. Rob Gronkowski, who signed a fat, six-year, $54M deal in 2012, will make $4.25M in salary this year. Bennett figures to get a deal that could be worth as much as $9M. Jack Doyle, a mid-tier tight end, re-signed a deal with the Colts on Wednesday that could pay him as much as $21M over three years.
And Allen’s 2017 salary will be just a touch below what the Patriots paid Bennett in 2016. So New England maintained the same level of tight end spending and got younger. We’ll see if Allen can be as effective as Bennett was.
The 6-3, 255-pound Allen isn’t bringing the size mismatch Bennett provided. The 27-year-old, 2014 third-rounder from Clemson is an effective red-zone target. Eight of his 29 catches in 2014 went for touchdowns. He caught six touchdowns on 35 receptions in 2016.
He’s also an effective blocker. Bennett, who played with some hobbling injuries and wasn’t a divisive guy even when he wasn’t getting the football, was a good blocker at times. At other times he looked like he could barely hold up.
But given Bennett’s track record of being a pain in the posterior elsewhere, his production, personality, willingness to do the dirty work and not moan about it made him one of the better cameo-role players of the Belichick Era.
Now we’ll see what Dwayne does.