Martellus Bennett should provide Patriots a needed boost in red zone

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Similar to when they claimed wide receiver Michael Floyd off waivers late last season, and brought back running back LeGarrette Blount late in the 2014 season, the New England Patriots have struck again by claiming veteran tight end Martellus Bennett on Thursday.

It's a solid move -- assuming Bennett is healthy enough with his injured shoulder -- that helps address one of the Patriots' troubling shortcomings: red zone offense (34 trips, just 17 touchdowns).

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, in particular, must be thrilled. Brady loved playing with Bennett, who in turn has talked about how much he enjoyed playing in New England last season.

This also is a reminder of how circumstances can change.

When the 2016 season ended, the Patriots seemed content to move on from Bennett, who was an unrestricted free agent. That led the Patriots to trade for tight end Dwayne Allen of the Indianapolis Colts, a move that hasn't produced the expected results. Allen -- a solid locker-room presence and blocker -- doesn't have a catch through eight games.

So when Bennett unexpectedly became available -- as Floyd did last December -- the Patriots pounced. The economics are favorable to the club: It's really a bargain price for 2017, as Bennett will receive a prorated portion of his base salary, which totals $423,529, as well as be eligible for $300,000 in roster bonuses. An added positive from the Patriots' perspective is that there is no financial commitment beyond 2017 if the club doesn't want it; by electing not to pay a $2 million bonus at the start of the 2018 league year, the team can move on with no strings attached.

In that sense, there's limited risk for the Patriots, assuming Bennett is healthy and motivated.

For eight more regular-season games and a chance to chase another Super Bowl ring with a team he said was one of his favorites to play for -- and transitioning from catching passes from Brett Hundley to Brady -- motivation shouldn't be a problem for Bennett.

The bottom line is this: The Patriots just improved their team and Bennett, assuming good health, just landed in a situation that should be more to his liking.