The Green Bay Packers have waived Martellus Bennett, bringing the tight end’s short tenure with the team to a surprising end, general manager Ted Thompson announced after practice on Wednesday.
The Packers cited a “failure to disclose a physical condition” for making the move. Bennett was added to the injury report after the bye last week with a shoulder injury. He did not play in the team’s 30-17 loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday.
By cutting Bennett with that designation, it sets up the Packers’ case for a grievance to reclaim the remaining prorated signing bonus money.
The Packers signed Bennett to a three-year, $21 million contract as a free agent in March. They gave him a $6.3 million signing bonus. If Bennett retires, the Packers would likely go after the remaining two-thirds of his signing bonus. If they do, Bennett would have to return $4.2 million. He also would leave up to $12.95 million of additional income on the table.
Bennett is now subject to waivers. All 31 other teams have until 4 p.m. ET Thursday to submit a claim on him. If he does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent and can sign with any team at any time after that.
Bennett’s release comes hours after Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced that Bennett had been ruled him out for this week’s game against the Chicago Bears because of a shoulder injury.
McCarthy said Bennett was still getting medical opinions on his injury.
“I know he was in here (Tuesday),” McCarthy said at the time. “There’s a number of opinions that he’s working through. He met with our medical staff yesterday, so they’re still going through the process, but he will be out against Chicago.”
The veteran tight end hasn’t played since he announced during the Packers’ bye week that he was leaning toward retiring at the end of this season.
“After conversations with my family, I’m pretty sure these next eight games will be the conclusion of my NFL career,” Bennett wrote on an Instagram story on October 29. “To everyone that has poured themselves and time into my life and career. These next games are for you. Thank you.”
When Bennett returned from the bye, he offered only a one-word explanation for what led him to that decision: “Life,” he said.
With Bennett released, the Packers only have two other tight ends on their active roster. Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers, who combined for three catches and 37 yards in Monday’s loss to the Lions.
Bennett started seven games for the Packers, catching 24 passes for 233 yards.