BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots have reportedly made it an offseason priority to sign tight end Martellus Bennett to a contract extension. But a new report suggests that the team wanted to make a deal happen even sooner.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted on Sunday that Bennett turned down a contract extension from the Patriots before the season that was reportedly worth $7 million annually. He added that the two sides will resume negotiations after the end of the 2016 season.

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Bennett has yet to miss a game and has played 645 total snaps on the season, according to Pro Football Focus. He has played nearly an even split between snaps as a pass-catcher (284) and as a run-blocker (283), recording 44 catches for 544 yards and four touchdowns.

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The Patriots could view Bennett as insurance in the event that they lose Rob Gronkowski, which happened once again in 2016 as Gronk was placed on IR after undergoing back surgery. Bennett’s decision to turn down the extension was a big bet on himself to earn a bigger deal, which he may get if he can stay healthy and productive for the rest of the season.

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Bennett’s extension likely would have given him the same $7 million cap hit as Gronkowski next season. Now, a new extension could make that number even higher.