Five years ago, the Patriots took a pair of calculated risks in trading for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and receiver Chad Johnson. To get both players after the end of the 2011 lockout, the Patriots gave up, in all, a fifth-round pick in 2012 and a fifth- and sixth-round pick in 2013.
It didn’t work out with either guy.
The decision to do a deal for disgruntled Bears tight end Martellus Bennett carries with it similar risk. The cost is fairly low, with the Pats reportedly giving up a fourth-round pick and getting a sixth-rounder back, and Bennett has a relatively inexpensive salary of $5.085 million in 2016, the final year of his current contract.
But getting traded to the Patriots won’t automatically make Bennett happy, unless they Patriots also planning to trade away Rob Gronkowski. For Bennett’s contract year, he now becomes the third option at best in the passing, and maybe even the fifth or sixth, given the presence of Gronkowski, receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan, and running back Dion Lewis.
Amendola, who has a $5 million salary and per-game roster bonuses worth up to $437,500, could be the odd man out — which surely would be fine by Bennett, a 29-year-old veteran who may have only one more shot at a significant contract. Bennett will need to get the ball in his hands this year. Even with Tom Brady distributing the passes, Bennett may not make a major impact in his first, and possibly only, season with the team.
Regardless of how it works out, coach Bill Belichick has the pelts on the wall to justify taking a calculated risk from time to time. Whether it’s trading away his best pass rusher or trading for a No. 2 tight end who’ll want to be No. 1 (or doing both in back-to-back days), four trophies in the case give Belichick the equity to do what most other coaches would be heavily criticized for attempting.