Martellus Bennett released by New England Patriots

Martellus Bennett wants to play in 2018, but it won't be with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots released the veteran tight end on Wednesday, hours after the Seattle Seahawks agreed to trade his older brother, Michael, to the Philadelphia Eagles. Bennett is ranked No. 74 in NFL.com's Top 101 Free Agents of 2018.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old should find a market for his services despite being hobbled by injuries in 2017. Bennett openly hinted at retirement last season while he was battling a shoulder injury with the Green Bay Packers. He was eventually cut by the Packers after a disappointing seven-game effort that yielded just 24 catches, 233 yards and zero touchdowns -- and the ire of the Packers' front office.

The New England Patriots claimed Bennett off waivers. He played just two games for Bill Belichick before going on injured reserve due to hamstring and shoulder issues.

While Bennett might have been hoping for a second chance in New England, his $6.2 million salary-cap hit was seemingly too much for the Patriots. The legacy of Bennett's strong 2016 season (55 catches, 701 yards, seven touchdowns) wasn't enough for Belichick to consider him as a potential insurance plan for the injury-prone Rob Gronkowski, who's expected to return next season.

With Bennett getting an early pass into free agency, it remains to be seen if someone will try to lock him up in the next week before the rest of the free-agent market is unleashed.