After winning Super Bowl LI with the New England Patriots, tight end Martellus Bennett was bullish on his chances of landing a lucrative new contract in the offseason. That deal came from the Green Bay Packers, who scooped up the tight end Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Bennett confirmed the news shortly thereafter on Instagram:
Bennett will receive $21 million over the next three years, and the tight end was confident he would get paid big numbers after the Patriots’ come-from-behind win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Patriots TE Martellus Bennett: "I'm going into free agency as a Super Bowl champion. You know they overpay Super Bowl champions!" LOL— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) February 6, 2017
The nine-year NFL veteran revived his value as a player in one season in New England, filling in for an injured Rob Gronkowski and giving Tom Brady an extra playmaker at tight end. He caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns despite fighting through nagging leg injuries throughout the season.
The seven touchdowns were a career high, as Bennett rebounded from a dismal 2015 with the Chicago Bears. He gained just 439 yards that season while dealing with a rib injury and ceding his role in the offense to Zach Miller. He ripped quarterback Jay Cutler shortly after leaving the franchise, but his criticism panned out; Bennett became a force once again with Brady throwing him passes up the seam.
Gronkowski really wanted Bennett to get paid, and he did just that. "I'm hoping that he breaks the bank," Gronkowski told ESPN in late February. "Whenever you see a tight end break the bank, it's good for the industry; it's good for the position. You want to see the position grow."
He’ll continue a long and winding football career with the Packers. Bennett was a five-star recruit coming out of high school in Houston before committing to Texas A&M. He put together three solid seasons with the Aggies, but never quite played up to his potential. That trend continued after the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Bennett topped out at 284 receiving yards over four seasons in Dallas, but his prodigious athletic gifts made him a commodity. He signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants and posted a breakout season, leading him to Cutler and the Bears on a four-year, $20.4 million pact. It only took three years to wear out his welcome there, and the franchise traded him, along with a sixth-rounder, for the Patriots’ fourth-round pick in 2016.
Now, he’ll go from catching passes from Brady to hauling them in from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Rodgers was happy about the addition and celebrated the news on Twitter:
The typically light-spending Packers were quiet on the first day of free agency, but ended up making a splash to help an offense that already had the most passing touchdowns in the NFL in 2016.