How Michael Bennett's contract affects Patriots' salary cap, per report

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The New England Patriots did right by Michael Bennett to give him the raise he coveted.

But don't be fooled: The pay bump was in the team's best interest, too.

The Patriots and their new defensive end agreed to a reworked two-year contract Tuesday that reportedly will pay Bennett $16.75 million over two years with a $4 million signing bonus. On Friday, The Boston Globe's Ben Volin shared a breakdown of Bennett's news contract, which gives the Patriots a bit more salary cap space this year.

By paying Bennett a little extra in 2019, New England frees up about $700,000 in salary cap space, which perhaps could go to re-signing kicker Stephen Gostkowski in free agency.

The Patriots currently have about $18.2 million in cap space for 2019, according the NFL Players' Association, which puts them in the middle of the NFL pack and gives the defending Super Bowl champs some wiggle room as they work through their offseason checklist.

That flexibility comes at a cost, as the Patriots will lose roughly $2 million in cap space in 2020 thanks to Bennett's contract. The former Philadelphia Eagle appears to be worth the cost, however: He's tallied eight or more sacks in three of the last four seasons and gives Bill Belichick an elite pass-rushing option on the defensive line.

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