The Green Bay Packers have cut tight end Martellus Bennett with the failure to disclose a medical condition designation, the team announced Wednesday.
By cutting Bennett with that designation, it sets up the Packers’ case for a grievance to reclaim the $4.2 million in remaining prorated signing bonus money.
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 coach Mike McCarthy ruled him out for this week because of a shoulder injury. McCarthy said last week that Bennett was still being evaluated by doctors.
The veteran tight end hasn’t played since he announced during the Packers’ bye week that he was “pretty sure” this would be his last NFL season. When Bennett returned from the bye, he offered only a one-word explanation for what led him to that decision: “Life,” he said.
It’s unclear exactly how Bennett got hurt. He took part in the first practice after the Packers’ bye week but hasn’t been on the field since then.
The Packers have only two other tight ends on their roster: Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers. Without Bennett on Monday night against the Lions, Kendricks had two catches for 32 yards and Rodgers one catch for 5 yards.
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.
The Packers already had ruled out two other players this week: right tackle Bryan Bulaga and safety Morgan Burnett. Bulaga tore the ACL in his right knee against the Lions and will miss the rest of the season, while Burnett suffered a groin injury and won’t play this week.