Last off-season, the Patriots dealt a 2016 fourth-round pick to Chicago for tight end Martellus Bennett and a ’16 sixth-rounder. Bennett then played a critical role in New England’s offense, even assuming the No. 1 tight end job when Rob Gronkowski fell to injury.
Bill Belichick has decided to go back to the well. On Wednesday, the Patriots acquired TE Dwayne Allen and a 2017 sixth-round pick from the Colts for—you guessed it!—a fourth-rounder in the upcoming draft.
Bennett caught 55 passes at 12.7 yards per reception last year, with eight touchdowns. When Gronkowski was on the field, Bennett’s multi-dimensional game allowed Belichick to unleash the mismatch-creating two-TE attack he and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels utilize so well. Bennett’s blocking was a welcome addition to the Patriots’ ground game, too.
Allen figures to slot in for Bennett, now that the latter is mere hours from officially becoming a free agent. Allen does not have the track record as a pass catcher that Bennett brought to the table, but he did catch eight TDs in 2014 and six last season, and like Bennett, he can be relied on as a blocker.
Barring a restructured contract, the Patriots will be on the hook for Allen’s 2017 salary ($2.5 million) and a roster bonus ($2 million), both of which kick in next week. Allen has two years and $11.4 million in salary remaining beyond ’17, plus two additional $500,000 roster bonuses (source: Overthecap.com).
Rather than retain Allen as their No. 2 tight end, they acquired a little value for him from the Patriots, who now will thrust him into that role. Both the Colts and Patriots still should be considered possible landing spots for tight ends in this year’s draft—that class is loaded.
The Allen trade comes out pretty close to win-win territory, if the Colts were finished with him. New Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard moved up two rounds in the draft and cleared the $4.5 million he would have had to pay Allen as of next week.
And the Patriots secured their replacement for Bennett, using a familiar formula.