Patriots make a key deal for pass rusher Bennett

AP photo The Patriots swooped in Friday and traded with the Eagles for disgruntled pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Patriots reportedly got themselves some insurance in case pass rusher Trey Flowers leaves via free agency.

Multiple reports said Friday New England acquired 33-year-old defensive end Michael Bennett from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for what has been rumored to a 2020 fifth round pick, with the Patriots possibly getting an Eagles’ seventh rounder back.

The trade, as all others made around the league in the last few days/weeks, won’t be officially announced unitl the NFL year officially begins this coming Wednesday.

The 6-4, 274 pound Bennett reportedly has long been a favorite of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Despite his age, he’s been productive with 17 sacks the last two seasons (nine last year) and last season had 20 quarterback hits and 37 hurries, mainly from the left side.

Also, interestingly enough, Bennett played for expected new Patriots defensive coordinator Greg Schiano in 2012 when Schiano was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bennett was acquired by the Eagles last year for a fifth round pick after spending five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, and played against the Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago. He also began his career, after actually being drafted by Seattle, with Tampa Bay. He is reportedly scheduled to make as much as $7.2 million this coming year ($6 million base) and as much as $8.5 million in 2020, still likely less than what the younger Flowers will get on the open market. There were rumors early Friday Bennett was on the trading block.

“I still know that I’m one of the best players in the NFL,” he told the NFL Newtwork on Friday. “You look at statistically last year, quarterback hits, TFLs, and with how I approach the game I love football and whatever team I’m on, I’m going to take that same attitude and go out there and be a nasty player and try to dominate on the defensive line and be the best teammate and the best player that I can possibly be.”

Flowers, after the Patriots did not give him the franchise tag, can begin negotiating with teams as a free agent Monday, and it’s not clear yet whether he is indeed set on leaving the Patriots. Bennett, by the way, is the brother of former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett.

(Information from NFL.com was used in this report.)