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NFL notebook: Patriots trade for TE Bennett

| Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

The Patriots acquired tight end Martellus Bennett on Wednesday in a trade with the Bears first reported by ESPN.

The Bears also sent a sixth-round pick to New England in exchange for a fourth-round pick. In essence, the deal moves the Bears up 58 picks in the draft for the 2014 Pro Bowler, who had worn out his welcome in Chicago and is entering the final year of his contract.

Bennett caught 53 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns before finishing last season on injured reserve. In 2014, he led all tight ends with 90 receptions.

Cards add OL Mathis

Evan Mathis, a starting guard for the Super Bowl champion Broncos last season, and the Cardinals agreed to terms on a one-year, $6 million contract.

Mathis, a 2013 All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection, fills an immediate need and is an upgrade at right guard for the Cardinals, who sent Jonathan Cooper to New England as part of the trade for linebacker Chandler Jones.

CTE remarks ‘have no bearing' on appeal

The NFL's sudden acknowledgement of a link between football and brain disease comes as a U.S. appeals court prepares to rule on the fairness of a likely $1 billion settlement that excludes future CTE diagnoses.

The NFL filed a letter with the court this week after league official Jeff Miller, senior vice president for health and safety, acknowledged that brain research on deceased players “certainly” shows a link between football and CTE.

“Simply put, Mr. Miller's remarks have no bearing on the pending appeal,” NFL lawyer Paul Clement argued in a letter filed late Tuesday. “The NFL has previously acknowledged studies identifying a potential association between CTE and certain football players.”

The settlement would affect more than 20,000 retirees, paying $190,000 on average but up to $5 million to young men with severe neurological conditions, such as Lou Gehrig's disease or Parkinson's disease. The NFL has said it expects three out of 10 ex-players to qualify for compensation during their lifetime.

Around the league

The Browns released wide receiver Dwayne Bowe after one season and linebacker Karlos Dansby after two with the team. ... The Bengals re-signed defensive tackle Pat Sims to a two-year deal. ... The Vikings re-signed backup running back Matt Asiata. ... The Falcons continued an active offseason by adding tackle Tom Compton and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, their fifth and sixth free-agent signings so far.

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