Patriots prioritizing re-signing TE Martellus Bennett

The New England Patriots own the top tight end tandem in the NFL and want to keep it that way beyond 2016.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports the Patriots are making Martellus Bennett an offseason priority and want to lock him up for the future, according to sources informed of the team's thinking.

Bennett is in the final year of his contract, making $5.085 million for 2016 -- currently 17 tight ends average more money per year than Bennett, according to

The Chicago Bears traded away Bennett in a swap of draft picks. Essentially, the Patriots got a top-tier tight end in exchange for moving down two rounds in the draft (from 4th to 6th). Discarded by one of the worst teams, Bennett has been everything the Pats wanted, per Rapoport.

Bennett slots into the Patriots offense seamlessly. He's a perfect complement and insurance to Rob Gronkowski (who is out again Sunday). In New England, the 6-foot-6 Bennett has been a more willing blocker and a dynamic pass-catching threat with 38 receptions for 504 yards and four TDs through nine games (seven starts).

It speaks volumes that the Pats would prioritize Bennett given the players on defense the team also needs to lock down -- Dont'a Hightower and Malcolm Butler.

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