Before ever playing a down for the Patriots, Michael Bennett earned a new contract.
The Patriots reworked the final two years of Bennett’s deal, which they inherited in the trade with the Eagles last month. The veteran defensive end was due to make $13.7 million over two years, but the Pats boosted that number to $16.75 million, according to an ESPN report.
The restructured contract includes a $4 million signing bonus.
Bennett had publicly expressed his desire for a raise earlier this offseason.
“I’m not willing to take a pay cut,” Bennett said on the NFL Network during a March 8 appearance. “I actually want a pay raise at this point, and so whatever happens just to know that whatever team I go to I want to get paid more than I get paid right now.”
Hours later, the Eagles dealt Bennett to the Patriots. And now the Patriots have made sure he’s content heading into offseason workouts.
Because the $4 million signing bonus is prorated, the move creates approximately $700,000 in cap space for the Patriots, who no longer are facing financial issues. Following Rob Gronkowski’s retirement and Bennett’s reworked deal, the Pats are now sitting at about $17.5 million in room.
The pricey free agents are long gone, but the space could help the Patriots trade for a high-profile pass-catcher in the near future.
Thus far, the Bennett trade has been by far the most significant addition this offseason.
Bennett, still playing at a high level at age 33, figures to be an every-down player for the Pats. He leads a defensive end unit that also includes Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Derek Rivers, Ufomba Kamalu, Keionta Davis, and Trent Harris.
It’s a group with some promising young players, but not much experience.
Defensive end could be a top priority in the draft later this month. The Patriots hold six picks in the top three rounds.