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Packers release Martellus Bennett, who now goes through waivers

A rare intriguing in-season waiver opportunity. Does it make sense for the 49ers?

The close of the annual NFL trade deadline means the end of trading, but it also brings a significant change in how player releases are handled. Prior to the trade deadline, if a player is released, he only goes through waivers if he has fewer than four accrued seasons of service time. If he has four or more, he is automatically a free agent. After the trade deadline, all released players go through the waivers process.

That brings us to today’s news. The Green Bay Packers released tight end Martellus Bennett on Wednesday, listing him with a failure to disclose designation. The designation likely means he did not disclose a certain injury at some point during this time with the Packers. He appeared in seven games this season, catching 24 passes for 233 yards.

Bennett will go through waivers, which means any of the other 31 teams can claim his contract. This past offseason, he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Packers. He received a $6.3 million signing bonus. The Packers have to eat the signing bonus regardless of if he is claimed off waivers, but a new team would take over the rest of his salary. Bennett is only due $900,000 the rest of this season and $600,000 in total per-game roster bonuses. If he is on the roster the first day of the 2018 league year, he is owed a $2 million roster bonus. His salaries the next two years are $3.6 million and $5.65 million.

The 49ers are in a bind at tight end. They placed Cole Hikutini on injured reserve, and Kyle Shanahan already said George Kittle won’t play this weekend. That leaves them with Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen. Bennett is more of a pass catching option, but considering the team’s dearth of options due to injuries, he could potentially bring something to the table.

The 49ers and Browns hold the top two spots in waiver priority. I believe SOS has the Browns at No. 1 over the 49ers, but I am not quite certain. Does it make sense though to put in a claim on Bennett?