The slumping Packers launched a personnel grenade Wednesday, releasing tight end Martellus Bennett after Bennett played just seven uneven games for them.
While shrapnel from that news rained down in Green Bay, in New England, speculation immediately turned to whether or not the Patriots might be interested in reeling Bennett back into the fold.
Bennett was with the Patriots in 2016 and while his quirky, eccentric, look-at-me personality certainly had potential to grate on the organization, it never did because Bennett – according to coaches and teammates – worked his ass off, played through injury when the team needed him to and was productive.
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In that way, the 2016 season was a departure for Bennett, who’d been dogged by accusations of dogging it at several stops in his 10-year-career. But the Patriots were the best team Bennett had been a part of. Green Bay could have been comparably competitive, which is no doubt why Bennett went there a free agent in the offseason. But quarterback Aaron Rodgers got hurt on October 15 against the Vikings and the Packers haven’t won since. Bennett – in the wake of the Rodgers injury – announced he was “pretty sure” that 2017 would be his last season.
In short, it looks like things had long since gone south for Bennett out there. That was confirmed by the fact he was released with a designation of “failing to disclose a medical condition.” There will be more to that story and the Packers may be trying to recoup portions of the three-year, $21 million deal he signed.
Could Bennett come back to the Patriots and find short-term success before he hangs them up? Would he want to? There’s no doubt he loves the attention so I’d be surprised if he dismisses that possibility.
And players who’ve moved on and pissed off their new employers have returned successfully to the Patriots (LeGarrette Blount being the prime example of that).
If he were to come back to New England, Bennett would first have to clear waivers as a vested veteran released after the trade deadline. And then the Patriots would have to establish that he’s an upgrade over Dwayne Allen (he would be -- Allen hasn’t caught a pass) and whether he’ll be worth the trouble.
Financially, New England could handle it with ease. But the Pats have to figure out if he’s healthy, if he’s engaged and whether he’d make an immediate impact. Given the brittleness of Gronk (at least historically), it seems like a reasonable insurance policy.