BOSTON (CBS) — It seemed too obvious, the idea of the Patriots putting a waiver claim on the suddenly released tight end who helped them win a Super Bowl last season.
So why, then, did a team ahead of the Patriots on the waiver wire not put in a claim to stop it from happening?
To help answer the question of how the Patriots got Martellus Bennett, Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard joined Toucher & Rich on Friday.
The answer might temper some enthusiasm in New England.
“A couple of different reasons. Number one is the film. His on-field play has just not been good this year. If you’ve tuned in to any Packers game, the Martellus Bennett that we saw most of last season with the Patriots just isn’t there,” Bedard said. “When you tune in, you see a player who’s basically playing out the string, who cashed in his Super Bowl title got a nice little three-year deal with some signing bonus money, and went to Green Bay where he may or may not have been thrilled to be there. I think Martellus likes to be in a bigger city, from Dallas, to New York, [to Chicago], to New England. Green Bay is a totally different place, and so maybe he was having some issues with that.”
Bedard also noted that Bennett’s brother, Michael, was dealing with a very public situation with the Las Vegas police, which may have weighed on Martellus’ mind.
“Whatever the reasons were, on the field he was not producing,” Bedard said. “He had a lot of drops, he didn’t look enthusiastic, he couldn’t block, he was just struggling at a lot of stuff. I think when teams looked at should we claim Martellus Bennett, the first thing you do is you turn on the film and they probably came away and said, ‘Nah, not interested.'”
The Aaron Rodgers injury also likely didn’t help matters.
“You sign as a free agent and then all of a sudden you have Brett Hundley throwing to you, maybe you’re not as enthusiastic. But a lot of this stuff was going on even when Aaron was playing,” Bedard said.
Of course, Bedard noted that playing in New England could certainly change his approach and give him a bit of an enthusiasm boost for the second half of the year.
As for the reported torn rotator cuff Bennett is dealing with, Bedard said Bennett’s effectiveness and ability to play will depend on the severity.
“If it’s completely torn, no he can’t really play on it. But if it’s half-torn, like it probably was most of last season, then yeah, it just takes a lot of maintenance,” Bedard said. “It’s a problem both in blocking … and also trying to make catches, stretching out, going over his head, to the side, especially if [Tom] Brady’s throwing the ball with any heat, that can be pretty painful. But as long as it’s not completely torn, it’s almost a pain threshold type of thing. And if he wants to take painkillers to get through it, that could help him.”
The MMQB’s Albert Breer also joined Toucher & Rich on Friday, and explained why Bennett was available to the Patriots.
“Well let’s start with what he said publicly, which he basically said he’s going to retire. And when guys start to talk like that, mentally they’re already retired,” Breer said. “That’s the rule of thumb. So I think as far as him getting past teams like the Giants and the Browns, the teams where the season’s over, there’s no sense in them picking up someone like that, where there’s the potential it could affect your locker room and you’re not going anywhere anyway. So that takes … a dozen teams off the table?
“And then you get past that, and you get to teams that are contending, and most of them don’t have a real idea of how he’ll fit into the framework of what they’re doing. And so they’re probably looking at it and saying he had 24 catches for 233 yards and no touchdowns, he’s talking about retiring, and he’s got a big mouth. Do we really want to bring that in our mix?”
Listen to the full interview above!