DENVER – Martellus Bennett made up his mind when he was in Green Bay. His 2017 season was over and he was going to get surgery to fix his shoulder. He thought the logical step was to be placed on the injured reserve.
The Packers had other ideas when they waived the veteran on Wednesday. Bennett admits he was hurt, but thought surgery was still the next thing on the table so he informed his agent to tell teams not to claim him.
That’s when the Patriots stepped up. Bennett was shocked on Thursday when Bill Belichick called him and informed the tight end the Patriots claimed him. At that moment, he decided against surgery. Still angry with the Packers, Bennett decided to play and suited up on Sunday night in Denver.
“It was one of those things I felt like I should get fixed and then after trying to get it fixed and getting waived, you just get that vengeance in your heart,” Bennett said. “You’re like, ‘all right, that’s how you’re going to do it, (expletive) it. Let’s go ball.’”
Bennett finished with three catches on three targets for 38 yards. The circumstances surrounding Bennett’s departure from Green Bay took a strange turn last week. That fact that he was active with the Patriots only adds to this odd story.
The tight end has reportedly been dealing with a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum. After talking with the Packers staff, it was thought that Bennett would undergo surgery and head to the injured reserve. He’s also been talking about retiring after this season.
That all changed when the Packers waived him with a “failure to disclose injury” designation. According to the NFL Network, Green Bay plans to go after some of Bennett’s $6.3-million signing bonus, saying the tight end had a pre-existing condition before signing his contract last March.
“At first I told my agent to tell no teams to claim me because I was still trying to get the surgery,” Bennett said. “When Bill called and said they claimed me, I was like, ‘no way.’ Then he was like, so what’s going on?’ I told him and we had a quick conversion.”
Although he was learning toward surgery, prior to being claimed, Bennett figured he’d visit with several NFL teams after the waiver wire process. He had several calls with other NFL clubs while weighing the shoulder procedure.
For the two days he was home, following his release, Bennett was upset. On one hand, he got to hang out with his daughter, Jett, and drop her off at school. On the other, he’d never been released or waived before. When the Patriots traded for the tight end in 2016, he found out while at Disneyland. On Thursday, the experience was a little different.
“This time, I was just sitting on a bean bag literally feeling sorry for myself,” Bennett said. “You go from Disneyland to a bean bag. It’s a nice bean bag, but at the same time, I was like, ‘what am I going to do?’ I had no idea. I’ve never been in that situation before so I was just trying to figure it all out.”
On Friday, Bennett criticized the Packers, saying his shoulder was cleared when he signed in March and that he suffered the injury this season against the Dallas Cowboys. He also criticized the Packers team doctor, Pat McKenzie, saying he didn’t trust him and now he was “trying to cover his own ass.”
That comment upset several Packers players, as Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rogers took to social media to defend McKenzie.
“I got criticism from all of my former organizations,” Bennett said. “I mean, (expletive). At this point, it’s like I’m rubber and you’re glue, anything you say bounces off me and sticks back to you. At this point, there’s nothing else anyone can say to me and my career that could make me feel any way toward myself cuz the team that I’ll always have is my wife and my daughter.
“They’re always rooting for me no matter what. I may wear different jerseys but I’m still the same man with my family. That’s all that really matters. Like I told the guys, ‘in order for the Phoenix to be reborn, he must first turn to ashes.’”
Mark Daniels may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkDanielsPJ