Michael Bennett’s time with the New England Patriots organization could be coming to a swift end. Despite New England’s 6-0 record and top-ranked defense, Bennett has hardly been able to find the field. Bennett’s lack of playing time combined with his cap salary and recent one-game team suspension may lead to New England moving on from the pass rusher.
Michael Bennett Trade Talks With Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders
Bennett’s Defensive Role
Although Bennett has tallied two and a half sacks through six games this season, the Patriots have not been predominantly using Bennett in his normal pass-rushing role. In fact, the team has asked Bennett to play a much bigger role within the interior of the defensive line than what he is used to.
Given that the Patriots defense has been heavily utilizing 3-4 alignments, the team has required Bennett to play with a two-gap responsibility. Meaning, the 3-4 alignment requires each of the three defensive linemen to be responsible for controlling both the gap on his right and the gap on his left.
This is a responsibility that Bennett has not had for much of his career as he has largely played as a defensive end in 4-3 schemes. Within the 4-3 alignment, the defensive end’s responsibility features much more pass-rushing and setting the edge. New England has used Bennett more as a defensive tackle rather than his preferred pass-rushing defensive end role. The defender has not thrived in his new role as he played in just 11 snaps last Thursday. The Patriots should look to trade the three-time Pro Bowler as he still has value to a team looking for a pure pass rusher.
Possible Michael Bennett Trade Partners
The trade market for Bennett would likely be limited given his age, contract, and lack of versatility. However, teams whose records are not atrocious, are in need of pass-rush help, and have some cap space should be interested. The Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders clearly fit all of those categories. Currently, both teams have over 17 million in cap space and could easily absorb Bennett’s contract. Additionally, the Lions record of 2-2-1 along with the Raiders record of 3-2, has both teams still very much alive in the league’s playoff race.
Trading for a relatively cheap pass rusher makes sense for both teams, as the Lions rank 26th in total sacks and the Raiders rank 28th. Also, both the Lions and Raiders have staff members who have a history with Bill Belichick. Lions Head Coach, Matt Patricia, was with New England for 14 seasons before leaving for Detroit in 2018. Likewise, Lions general manager Bob Quinn was with the Patriots organization for 15 seasons prior to joining Detroit. Raiders’ new general manager Mike Mayock played under Belichick during his time with the New York Giants. Their player-coach relationship blossomed into a friendship when Mayock became one of the best NFL Draft media analyzers.
Possible Lions Trade Package
The Lions have the ability to offer the strongest trade package to New England in a Bennett deal. A trade that would send Lions receiver Danny Amendola back to New England makes the most sense given the Patriots injury situation with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett. While Amendola carries with him a salary-cap number of just under 4.5 million, the Patriots would be able to absorb his contract after clearing over 2.5 million by trading Bennett. Amendola has struggled with Detroit thus far, appearing in four games and recording just 12 receptions for 147 yards. However, Amendola’s history within this New England offense would not only revive his season, but would also provide a huge upgrade at wideout for the Patriots.
Possible Raiders Trade Package
Unlike the Lions, the Raiders do not have any players on their roster that would be a fair one for one swap in a Michael Bennett deal. However, the Raiders do have draft capital that would interest the Patriots if packaged correctly. It would be a reach for the Raiders to give up their fourth-round pick solely for Bennett, but if the Patriots packaged Bennett along with one of their sixth-round picks, the trade could be done.
It seems very likely that the Patriots will make a trade before the league’s October 29th deadline. Bennett is a prime candidate for New England to look to move given his lack of scheme fit and recent behavioral issues. Teams willing to trade for Bennett would not need to give up a lot and would gain a talented pass rusher with veteran experience on a very manageable contract.
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