Sports

Packers TE Bennett waived, considers retirement

Veteran totaled 24 receptions for 233 yards

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Twenty-four receptions, 233 yards and zero touchdowns.

That's what the Green Bay Packers received from tight end Martellus Bennett this season before waiving the 10-year veteran on Wednesday. Bennett was released with the designation that he failed to disclose a physical condition.

Bennett mysteriously showed up on the injury report last week with a shoulder injury. Whether that's the injury that led to his release or it's something different is unknown.

Bennett was a major disappointment on the field during the first half of the season. Then on Oct. 28 during Green Bay's bye week, Bennett posted on Instagram that he was "pretty sure" he would retire at the end of the 2017 season.

"After conversations with my family I'm pretty sure these next eight games will be the conclusion of my NFL career," Bennett said on Instagram. "To everyone who has poured themselves and time into my life and career. These next games are for you. Thank you."

When Bennett was asked why he was contemplating retirement, he had just one word to say.

"Life," Bennett said, and refused to elaborate.

Bennett was perfectly healthy the first seven weeks of the season and played 83.4 percent of the snaps. But when Bennett returned from the bye, he showed up on the injury report with a shoulder injury.

Bennett was inactive during the Packers' Monday night loss to Detroit. Then he was waived Wednesday afternoon.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was asked Monday if there was more to Bennett's situation than a shoulder injury.

"No, no. It's just really the same thing," McCarthy said. "He's going through different opinions, so we're still collecting information."

Bennett's stay in Green Bay was certainly forgettable.

Bennett signed a three-year, $21 million deal in March after negotiations with former tight end Jared Cook broke down. But Bennett never came close to living up to the contract.

Bennett dropped 11.1 percent of his targets this year, the second-highest total among qualified tight ends. Only San Francisco rookie George Kittle had a higher drop percentage (11.9).

Bennett had a drop in Minnesota on the same play quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. And Bennett made headlines when he raised his fist and later sat down during the national anthem.

"Just a sign of unity," Bennett said of sitting during the anthem. "I am socially aware. I understand what's going on, and I don't turn a blind eye to it. I am part of the conversation."

The Packers will now turn to veterans Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers at the tight-end position.

After averaging 30.8 catches during his first five seasons, Kendricks erupted for 50 receptions in 2016. To date, though, Kendricks had just eight catches for 126 yards and one touchdown.

Richard Rodgers had 108 receptions in his first three seasons (36.0 per year), highlighted by a 56-catch season in 2015. But Rodgers has just four catches for 43 yards this season.

"Those guys, we'll just keep rolling them through," McCarthy said. "And I think really the plan of playing a lot of different personnel groups is really tailored to their style because those guys can play any position -- on the line, off the line, in the backfield, out wide, you can move them in motion and so forth, so they give us a lot of flexibility."


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