With the Patriots’ dynasty at eighteen years and counting, the ebbs and flows of the Patriot Way have become very well defined. One of the most significant ebbs is the inevitable departure of one or two veteran players every offseason. The corresponding flow is when General Manager Belichick brings in a highly touted veteran to help Head Coach Belichick fortify his roster for the next Super Bowl pursuit. In this case, Bill Belichick brought in Michael Bennett to prepare for the imminent Brinks Truck backing into Trey Flowers’ driveway.
Next Man Up
Trey Flowers came into the league three years ago and improved year after year. He posted 7.5 sacks last year with the Patriots, both a team-high and career-high for the 25 year-old defensive end. Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia took notice of his impact and ventured far, far out of Belichick’s price range with a shiny $90 million dollar contract, including $56 million guaranteed.
To help fill the shoes of Flowers is a 33 year-old Michael Bennett, entering his 11th professional season. Bennett instantly becomes the longest-tenured defensive lineman on the Patriot roster. Moreover, the three-time Pro Bowler doesn’t damage the bankroll nearly as much as Flowers would have. He stands to earn just under $16 million over the next two years.
Bennett actually appeared on Coach Belichick’s radar ahead of last season, so it was only a matter of time until GM Belichick got his man. If only the same could be said for Danny Ainge, but I digress. On March 14, Belichick sent a 2020 fifth-round draft pick to the Eagles for Bennett and a 2020 seventh-rounder. Moving back two rounds in a future draft and landing an inexpensive, three-time Pro Bowler in the process? Business as usual for Bill Belichick.
Get to Know Michael Bennett
He spent his first four years in Tampa Bay until he joined the Seahawks, where his career flourished. A Pro-Bowler from 2015 to 2017, Bennett also added a Super Bowl ring in 2013. He posted 9.0 sacks in his only year as an Eagle, his best mark since 2015, when he had 10. Much like many Patriots roster additions, age will certainly play a factor in terms of his workload. As for his health, the Texas A&M product has appeared in 16 games in six of the last seven seasons, and also has several postseason runs under his belt.
Frankly, I doubt the Patriots season ends after 16 games.
Michael Bennett won’t be asked to replicate the production of Trey Flowers, nor will he have to. As it stands before roster cuts, Bennett is one of 15 defensive lineman in New England. While that number will certainly decrease, it will mirror the running back position as a highly-saturated faction of the roster.
After openly expressing his excitement about joining Tom Brady and the Patriots, the brother of beloved former Patriot Martellus Bennett should fit just fine in New England. The Bennetts join the Gronkowskis, the McCourtys, and the Hollisters as sibling duos to have been employed by the Patriots.
Since his Super Bowl season in 2013, Bennett has averaged eight sacks per year and has appeared in 91 of a possible 96 regular-season games. A consistent veteran with a reliable health record, Bennett will undoubtedly sustain the Patriots’ defensive line.
Standing at 6-4, 274 pounds, Bennett has experience playing across the defensive line. This versatility and agility is music to Bill Belichick’s ears, especially with Belichick supplementing his duties as a General Manager and Head Coach with the responsibilities of Defensive Coordinator.
Joining Jamie Collins as the fresh legs on the New England defense, Bennett will play a critical role on the pass rush as Brady and the Patriots look for Number Seven.
–Ethan Roy is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @_ethanroy