Michael Bennett is on his way to New England.
Earlier on Friday, the Eagles were reportedly prepared to release the 33-year-old pass rusher if they couldn’t find a taker, but apparently the Patriots were willing to part ways with something.
The Eagles are trading Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick in 2020, NBC Sports Boston confirmed. Philly.com first reported the trade and the conditions.
The trade won't become official until the start of the new league year on March 13.
By trading Bennett, the Eagles will not be left with any dead money. They will save Bennett’s entire $7.2 million cap hit in 2019 and his entire $8 million cap hit in 2020. Before counting Brandon Graham’s new contract, the Eagles had just under $20 million in cap space. My guess is they will have around $23-24 million in space now without any further moves.
The Patriots were reportedly interested in Bennett last year when the Eagles pulled the trigger to get him. The Eagles traded a fifth-round pick and Marcus Johnson to get Bennett and a seventh.
In his one season in Philadelphia, Bennett was very productive. He had nine sacks after a slow start and still has plenty of value in the NFL. On Friday morning, he was on NFL Network and said he wouldn’t take a pay cut and actually wanted a raise. Based on his productivity, that’s not crazy. But it certainly made it pretty clear that he wasn’t long for this city.
The Eagles re-signed Graham and will have Derek Barnett coming back from a season-ending shoulder surgery. Those two will be the starting defensive ends in 2020. Bennett was unhappy early in 2019 when he wasn’t starting and didn’t become productive until he got that role. Having an unhappy Bennett might have become a problem in the locker room.
Bennett is certainly an interesting and trying personality. While he eventually seemed to fit in with the Eagles’ locker room, things weren’t always smooth and his personality very likely played a roll in the Eagles’ decision to part ways with him (see story).
In addition to Graham and Barnett, the Eagles also bring back second-year defensive end Josh Sweat. Chris Long’s future is still somewhat of a mystery, but if he’s back, he would still be a valuable piece of their defensive puzzle. This is also a very deep draft class full of defensive linemen.
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