As the rest of the football world watched Bill Belichick wheel and deal players across the league on the first day of free agency, it was Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers who landed Belichick’s previous off-season darling in tight end Martellus Bennett. Signed to a three year contract with the Packers worth $21 million, Bennett fills the void left by the departure of Jared Cook.
The big-bodied Bennett should prove to be an instant upgrade at the position and possibly the best overall tight end Aaron Rodgers has played with during his tenure in Green Bay. The Martellus Bennett signing is absolutely huge for a Packers team trying to reach its first Super Bowl appearance since 2010. Bennett brings both incredible physical traits and an attitude that can transform the Packers offense.
Martellus Bennett Signing is Huge for the Green Bay Packers
Bennett’s biggest asset is his huge frame. Standing at 6’7” and just under 250 pounds, Bennett is an imposing figure on the field. There are few players who can match up against Bennett physically and he has enough speed to consistently create separation. He uses every bit of that size to effectively wall off defenders in both the pass and run games. Rodgers has needed a larger target to create mismatches in the middle of the field. Bennett also provides another red zone option apart from Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. Although Bennett has the size and ability of other top tight ends such as Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed, Bennett’s ability in the run game makes him a more well-rounded player. Although his effort in run blocking has been questionable at times, Bennett is an intelligent old-school player at the position who can play all three downs at an elite level.
Yards After Catch Ability
Not only is Bennett a big target for Rodgers, but he’ll do most of his damage with the ball in his hands. Last season, Jared Cook caught a first down on two thirds of his receptions. Bennett is a much better player after the catch. He runs with the elusiveness and reckless style of a running back at the size of a power forward. Bennett’s ability to gain yards after catch was utilized to its fullest extent last year in the play-action and short passing game. The Packers will hope that Bennett doesn’t slow down at age 30 and continues to be a wrecking ball through the middle of defenses on crossing routes and quick slants.
Martellus Bennett is one of the few tight ends in the game today with the ability to do anything Mike McCarthy could ask of him. A tight end that can block in the run game while making plays down the seam or split out wide is an advantage the Packers haven’t had in years. Bennett is equally great in the middle of the field against slower linebackers as he is lined up on the boundary against cornerbacks half his size. His ability to break tackles allows short passes to go for big gains, while his impressive hands and body control make him an ideal target on deep fly routes. He won’t drive defenders off the ball in the run game, but he positions himself well when blocking. Goal line opportunities become much easier with Bennett on the field as the defense must respect him as both a blocker and receiving threat.
Bennett has been a vocal player on and off the field throughout his career. He’s a spirited player that loves the game and loves to compete. He’s not afraid to let the media or other players know just how he feels. The Packers need more vocal leaders on their team. Martellus already has tried bonding with Packers fans by holding a Twitter poll to decide his jersey number. On the field he’s a monster that finishes each play with brute force and determination. He backs up talk with his skill. The Packers consistently have a young roster due to Ted Thompson’s usual strategy of adding talent primarily through the draft.
The signing of Bennett to a hefty contract is truly an outlier on Thompson’s record of avoiding heavily sought-after free agents outside the organization. Perhaps a fresh veteran playmaker like Bennett is exactly what the Packers locker room needs to get over the hump and make it back to the Super Bowl.