The New England Patriots have moved on from Michael Bennett.
After the veteran defensive lineman was suspended last week for conduct detrimental to the team, New England has decided to trade Bennett to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2020 7th-round pick that can be upgraded to a 6th-round selection in 2021, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Bennett’s suspension came as fallout from an argument he had with one of New England’s assistant coaches following their Week 6 victory over the New York Giants. In that game, Bennett played in just 11 snaps, eight of which came in garbage time of a 35-14 decision.
Bennett did apologize for creating a distraction and appeared set to put the tumultuous week behind him. But on Wednesday after New England’s first practice of the week, Bennett sounded off about the situation. Although he did say he enjoyed playing in New England, he mentioned he was unhappy with his decline in snaps and losing money from being suspended.
In trading Bennett, New England saves an additional $2 million in salary-cap space and could possibly make a final move ahead of next Tuesday’s trade deadline.
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Beneficial for the Cowboys
The Cowboys are 16th in the NFL this season in passing defense, recording 17 sacks on the season. And while the Cowboys are only allowing 228 passing yards per game this season, there is still the need to get more pressure on the quarterback.
Bennett joins a loaded defensive line for the Cowboys with prolific pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence. The sixth-year player ranked fourth in the NFL in pass-rush win rate at 34 percent last season. Coupled with the Robert Quinn, in his first year with the Cowboys after a stint in Miami last year, who ranked first (40 percent) and Bennett who ranked ninth (30 percent), the Cowboys may have just built the top pass rush in the NFL.
As for the Cowboys’ financial situation, Dallas has over $24 million in cap space for this season and even more for next year when Bennett’s contract carries a $10 million cap hit, $7 million of it in salary.
What This Means for New England
The Patriots had only $10,000 in cap space on Thursday afternoon following all its transactions from Wednesday. In trading Bennett, the Patriots added over $2 million in salary cap space, even with all of its recent tinkering.
The Patriots may look to upgrade its offensive line with the added space. Trent Williams is a name that has been tossed around and New England could sure use his presence for the added run and pass protection.
New England’s weakest link is the offensive line this season, causing difficulty in rushing the ball for Sony Michel and company. Adding Williams or another offensive lineman could bolster the running game while serving as an insurance policy for aging quarterback Tom Brady.
It could also allow the Patriots to bring in a direct replacement for Bennett on the defensive line. Rookie tackle Byron Cowart will now get additional playing time and edge rusher Deatrich Wise will see an expanded role as well. But New England may choose to add another defensive tackle in the middle to strengthen its run defense.