Bennett will indeed test free agency, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday. Based on his asking price as the most coveted tight end on the market, it's a "real possibility" Bennett will play for another team in 2017, per Rapoport.
Based on this news, the franchise tag will not be an option for the 2014 Pro Bowler.
The team is understandably unwilling to pay any tight end more than Rob Gronkowski's $9 million annual figure.
Soon after trading for Bennett last offseason, New England offered him a new deal worth $7 million per year, Rapoport reported early this month. Bennett promptly rejected that offer.
At this time last year, Bennett was available to 31 teams for the bargain-basement cost of a fourth-round pick. After transforming his reputation from clubhouse headache to selfless Super Bowl champion, he's now counting on one of the remaining 30 teams to overpay for his services.