Last week, defense end Chris Long posted a lengthy social media message to announce that he wasn't re-signing with the Patriots after just one (albeit successful) season in Foxborough. Today, it's tight end Martellus Bennett.
On his Twitter account, Bennett bid a fond farewell to the club that he helped capture its fifth Super Bowl title a month ago.
It's not at all surprising that Bennett is choosing to take advantage of his resurgent season with New England by exploring his options in free agency. He'd hinted as much in recent interviews and other social media posts.
In just one season as a Patriot, Bennett – who'll turn 30 years old tomorrow – caught 55 regular season passes for 701 yards and 7 touchdowns. He added 11 grabs for 98 yards and no scores in the postseason, but his durability (he played all 19 games) proved critical to the offense, particularly after fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski was lost for the season in November.
Bennett's apparent departure (he's yet to sign with another club as of 10:30 a.m. Eastern Thursday) leaves a bit of a void on New England's tight end depth chart. The Patriots currently have Gronkowski and Rob Housler under contract. Housler signed a future contract last month, which takes effect starting at 4 p.m. today. But the Patriots reportedly sought to address Bennett's impending departure by trading with Indianapolis for veteran Dwayne Allen.
In addition, veteran Matt Lengel was reportedly tendered an exclusive rights free agent contract by the Patriots earlier this week, while veteran Michael Williams, who spent 2016 on injured reserve and is scheduled to become a free agent, is said to be close to re-signing with New England (per the Boston Herald). Veteran Greg Scruggs also spent last season on IR and is scheduled to become a free agent today.