FOXBOROUGH — A week after being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, the Patriots shipped defensive end Michael Bennett to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday afternoon, according to an NFL source.
The Patriots will receive a seventh-round pick in 2021 in return, though the compensation could turn into a sixth-round selection based on how Bennett performs with the Cowboys.
The 11-year veteran, who said Wednesday he “liked playing here,’’ will return to New England Nov. 24 when the Patriots host the Cowboys.
The 33-year-old Bennett has now been traded three times in 19 months. The Seahawks sent him to the Eagles in March 2018, and the Patriots traded for him this past March.
This is the second trade this week for the defending Super Bowl champions, who acquired receiver Mohamed Sanu from the Falcons for a second-round pick on Tuesday.
The Bennett trade will clear about $2.6 million in cap space, allowing the Patriots some flexibility should they decide to make more moves. The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday.
Bennett was at practice Thursday and seemed in a good mood in the locker room, wearing headphones and singing quietly.
Bennett had a “philosophical disagreement” with defensive line coach Bret Bielema that led to his suspension. He returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the 33-0 win over the Jets on Monday night.
“It’s America. You can voice your opinion about how you feel about certain situations. That’s what I did,’’ Bennett told reporters Wednesday.
Bennett said he “didn’t take away nothing” from the suspension.
“[I] lost money,’’ he said. “What am I supposed to take away from that? There’s no love lost. It’s just how it is.’’
Bennett’s playing time has decreased as the season has gone on in his first year in New England, and that likely is one of the reasons he has appeared unhappy.
Bennett played a season-high 39 snaps in the season-opening win over the Steelers. He played in just 11 of a possible 50 defensive snaps in the win over the Giants.
He had five tackles and 2.5 sacks while playing 133 of 374 defensive snaps (36 percent) in six games.
“It’s always an adjustment when you’re not playing, just getting used to it,’’ Bennett said about his dwindling playing time. “But we’re winning, and that’s the most important thing for me as a teammate. But I think as an individual, you always want to play more and make some more plays. So, it’s always that great balance between both.’’
The Patriots’ defense ranks first in every major statistical category, including points allowed (27), opponents’ yards per play (3.96), opponents’ passer rating (34.6), opponents’ third-down conversion rate (14.3), opponents’ red-zone scoring (16.7), takeaways (22), and interceptions (18).