By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Before joining the New England Patriots, tight end Martellus Bennett didn’t feel like a fit for their all-football, no-nonsense culture. Fair or not, that’s the reputation that was built up for him – in the media, anyway.
Bennett, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, has spent the 2016 season not only remaining focused on doing his job as a Patriot but sacrificing none of his infectious charm in the process. The tight end’s excellent all-around performance, which has arguably saved the team at the tight end position in another injury-shortened season for Rob Gronkowski, has reportedly made him an offseason priority for the Patriots to keep around beyond 2016.
That doesn’t mean that Bennett is thinking about his next contract right now – but he sure seems happy where he’s at.
“I love it here,” Bennett told reporters on Thursday when asked if he’s thought about staying in New England. “We’ll figure it out when we figure it out. But my family loves it here, I love being a part of this team, this organization, this city. … When it comes around, it comes around.”
Either way, Bennett certainly doesn’t sound worried about his financial future – and for good reason.
“I save my money pretty good. I’ve got a good, diverse portfolio,” said Bennett, who spoke to reporters while wearing a sweatshirt with a cartoon of himself on the front. On the back of his sweatshirt is the hashtag #FootballMarty and the coordinates for Gillette Stadium, followed by the words “Every Sunday.”
Clearly, Bennett isn’t against making money. But he’s also one of the most imaginative, entrepreneurial players in the NFL and does not necessarily need to rely on football to make a living for himself. That bodes well for the Patriots’ chances of securing a team-friendly long-term deal with him.
He did, however, hint that he’s not necessarily going to be in New England forever when asked about his #FootballMarty sweatshirt and his newest moneymaking ideas.
“I figured that the NFL’s making so much money off of merch that if I slide in and make a small percentage of it … I could find a niche market for myself,” said Bennett. “Which you call ‘micro-branding.’ You focus on the area that you’re in and then eventually those people tell other people about it and then you branch out and do a little bit more … so I started a little thing called Football Marty.”
The coordinates on the sweatshirt could easily be changed to any other NFL stadium. The Imagination Agency says “Marty” plays for “your favorite NFL team.” So, obviously, he’s leaving himself some outs in case he decides to sign elsewhere as a free agent.
But as far as the next few years of his football life, Bennett seems to care more about keeping himself and his family happy than maximizing his contract value. With the Patriots, he’s the happiest he’s ever been in the NFL.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.