Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Bennett's injury to elderly charges dropped

Michael Bennett's injury to elderly charges dropped

The charges against new Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett for injury to elderly reportedly have been dropped.

Vivian King, chief of staff to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, said Bennett's case was "dismissed in the interest of justice" per David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.

Bennett was accused of pushing an elderly, paraplegic woman out of the way to celebrate with his brother, Martellus, after the Patriots beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Last year, Bennett's lawyer said the case would eventually be exposed as "ludicrous."

The Patriots received Bennett in a trade with the Eagles last month and reworked his contract on Tuesday.

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Eagles coach Doug Pederson says Michael Bennett will be happy with Patriots

Eagles coach Doug Pederson says Michael Bennett will be happy with Patriots

PHOENIX -- When Bill Belichick arrived at his designated table for the coaches' breakfast at the NFL's Annual Meeting, it didn't take long before he was asked about newly acquired defensive end Michael Bennett.

"I think he'll help our team," he said matter-of-factly. 

That's the assumption. The Patriots traded a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Eagles earlier this month, receiving Bennett and a seventh-round pick in return. The 32-year-old was in on nine sacks and recorded 78 total quarterback pressures for the Eagles last year, making him one of the more productive defensive ends in the NFC. 

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Monday that the decision to trade Bennett after one season in Philly was largely financial. Brandon Graham was back in the fold on a new contract. They wanted to sign Vinny Curry. There was only so much to go around. 

“For us when we looked at the decisions we had to make on the defensive line, a lot of money involved in those decisions when we re-signed Brandon Graham and had an opportunity to get compensation for Michael and also add Vinny back,” Roseman said. “We just thought it was a good decision for us going forward.”


But three days after dealing away Bennett -- who has salary cap hits of $7.2 and $8 million over the next two years -- the Eagles signed Malik Jackson to a three-year deal worth $30 million. Jackson's cap hit in 2019 is just $2.8 million but it jumps to $10 million in 2020.

So the Bennett deal does provide the Eagles with some immediate cap relief when compared against the Jackson signing, but it's clear the Eagles were willing to invest along their front; Bennett just didn't factor into their plans.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson indicated at the coaches' breakfast Tuesday that Bennett will be happier in New England, where he could end up with a more expansive role.

"I'm excited for Michael because, one, it gives him a chance to play and really be a starter," Pederson said. "That's what he wanted to do. They're getting a great person as well. He's a good teammate. He's obviously dynamic on the football field. He's got a lot of gas left in the tank. It'll be exciting to watch him."

Pederson added: "His whole career he's been a starter. When he came to us, the expectation, and we've always been open and honest, we rotate a lot of guys up front on the d-line. He was inside. He was outside. We obviously added Malik Jackson to take some of that pressure off of him always coming inside. And now this gives him an opportunity to play."


Bennett is now on his third team in as many years. He was dealt from Seattle to Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick and receiver Marcus Johnson. Now he's been dealt again for what looks like a relative bargain. He's been a big personality everywhere he's gone. He's been unafraid to ruffle feathers and speak his mind. 

I asked Pederson how Bennett's personality worked in Philly, and he made it seem as though there were no issues. 

"Great," Pederson said. "Really good. He was a guy who loved to have fun. I allow our players to have that sort of freedom, freedom of speech, to express themselves that way. I think it can be healthy for your team. He did a nice job of that. [That was] one of the things that I was proud of with him."

The culture is different in New England. As is the scheme. But the Patriots think Bennett will help. The extent to which he does -- and for how long -- will be one of the most fascinating storylines to track throughout the duration of Bennett's stay with his latest employer.

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Why the Patriots' trade for Michael Bennett makes sense

Why the Patriots' trade for Michael Bennett makes sense

It's almost as though the Patriots can't get rid of their fifth-round picks fast enough. They've made just two selections in the fifth round in the last seven years.

If they can acquire useful players by trading a Day 3 pick that another team values, then why not?

That's exactly what the Patriots did on Friday, dealing away a 2020 fifth-rounder (they don't own a fifth in this year's draft) for Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett and a seventh-round pick.

Describing Bennett as "useful" would be an understatement. He had 9.0 sacks for Philadelphia, and according to Pro Football Focus, only two players in the league have had more pressures since 2014. Last season, Bennett was credited by PFF with 20 quarterback hits (second in the league among edge defenders) and 37 hurries (19th).

At 33, it looks like Bennett still has plenty of juice, plus he provides the Patriots with a pass-rushing threat from both the edge and the interior. He's primarily played off the left edge the last two seasons, but (as he showed against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX) he has experience creating havoc from a variety of different positions along the defensive line.

Bennett is a different player than he was five years ago. He's not the same every-down disruptor that he was for the Seahawks. Seventy-five percent of his snaps last season came against the pass. But should the Patriots end up losing Trey Flowers in free agency, while Bennett wouldn't be able to replace everything Flowers provided the Patriots, his acquisition would provide the team some measure of insurance -- particularly as a versatile pass-rusher, since Flowers is someone who will play a variety of techniques along the line. 


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If the Patriots can end up retaining Flowers, he and Bennett would make a formidable pair on the edges. And should New England decide to part ways with defensive end Adrian Clayborn, the cap room saved ($5.94 million) would almost cancel the cap hit absorbed by Bennett for 2019 ($7.2 million).

Based on Bennett's relatively manageable salary and his recent productivity, what the Patriots gave up to get him makes the deal that much more palatable from their perspective. 

The Patriots generally hate picking in the fifth round. Yes, they've had fifth-round successes like Dan Koppen, Matthew Slater and Marcus Cannon in years past, but in the last seven drafts, they've made just two fifth-round choices: Ja'Whaun Bentley (2018) and Joe Cardona (2015). 

Why? According to some of the numbers compiled in this piece by Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald, the odds of finding a significant contributor in the fifth round aren't all that different from the sixth, seventh or undrafted free agency. If another team wants to value those fifth-rounders more than the Patriots do, they're happy to give it up to get a known veteran in house. And if a Day 3 pick comes back to New England as part of the deal -- as it does in the Bennett trade -- even better.

The Patriots have dealt fifths in recent years for Albert Haynesworth (2011), Isaac Sopoaga ('13), Keshawn Martin ('15), Barkevious Mingo ('16), James O'Shaughnessy ('17), Cassius Marsh ('17), Cordarrelle Patterson ('18), and Josh Gordon ('18). 

By trading for Bennett, the Patriots get the added benefit of not having his acquisition work against them in next year's compensatory pick formula. Had they tried to acquire a free-agent edge defender as Flowers insurance when the new league year begins, someone such as Ziggy Ansah or Alex Okafor, that player would have impacted New England’s compensatory pick formula in 2020. 

Given the cost, and given Bennett’s level of production in 2018, he has the chance to give the Patriots the best return they've seen from any of their many fifth-round trades.

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