It never hurts to add a player with a proven track record to your roster, and the Patriots got a huge break on Thursday when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported they were able to claim Martellus Bennett off of waivers after the Packers dropped him in their lap following the team parting ways with him Wednesday.
The addition of Bennett in 2016 paid serious dividends, with the veteran tight end playing an intricate role in New England’s Championship run, especially since he helped offset some of the blow after Rob Gronkowski went down for the season.
As it stands right now in 2017, his return couldn’t have come at a better time. Sitting at 6-2 and about to embark on two critical road games, the Patriots were already in tough shape after Chris Hogan suffered a shoulder injury during the club’s win over Los Angeles two weeks ago. Adding Bennett to the mix suddenly gives Tom Brady and the offense another dimension, adding another play-maker to a group that has had to seemingly fight for everything they’ve gotten this season.
His addition should help them in a couple of areas, particularly on third down and in the red zone. Last season Bennett caught 11-of-13 on third down for 97 yards and 7 first downs, 4 of which were touchdowns. Having caught all but two targets thrown his way, his completion rate on third down was the best of any Patriots player with 10 or more targets in 2016.
Down in the red zone, it gets even better. He caught 8-of-10 with five touchdowns, including catching 3-of-4 on third down with three touchdowns in scoring territory.
That’s just the weapon they need, and they’re fortunate the chips happened to fall in their favor. If Bennett can settle back into the player he was last year, it’s a LeGarrette Blount-esque addition that could be what fans look back on at the end of the year as the move that gave them just enough to get back to a championship level.
We’ll see if that ends up being the case. But now that Bennett’s back in the fold, it’s safe to say that, if nothing else, their chances of getting to Minneapolis just got a little better.