The Dallas Cowboys chose to let free-agent tight end Martellus Bennett walk this past offseason. Bennett has found himself a meaningful role with the New York Giants. He returns to Dallas this Sunday to take on his former team, but will he have an impact in the game?
The Dallas Cowboys' scouting department thought they struck gold when they drafted Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett with the 61st pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. Bennett was a unique physical specimen whose basketball background had some scouts thinking he could be the next Antonio Gates. The only problem with Bennett, he had major red flags surrounding his work ethic and character.
His career with the Dallas Cowboys started off with a great rookie campaign. Bennett scored four touchdowns during his rookie season and he showed promise in the passing game as a receiving tight end.
After scoring those four touchdowns in 2008, Bennett never scored a touchdown again in the regular season while he was in Dallas. He fell into the role of a "blocking tight end" and his responsibilities as a blocker prevented him from becoming a receiving threat. In the limited opportunities Bennett did get in the passing game, Bennett managed to drop passes or bat them away right into the cornerbacks hands.
I don't know if Bennett was ever going to succeed in Dallas. He was always going to be behind Jason Witten, there is just no way around that. Perhaps the Cowboys also used Bennett in the wrong role? Well Martellus believes that the Cowboys tried to make him into a player that he never was going to be.
"A lot of times in the past I felt like people tried to change who I was," Bennett said. "Everybody loved Witten so much. I thought they wanted me to be exactly like him. But that wasn’t my game. There are a lot of things Witten does well. And there are a lot of things that I do well that he doesn’t do. I think they loved that model of a tight end that they tried to pressure me to be exactly like him. And when I wasn’t, I think it kind of hindered our relationship."
During his time in Dallas, Bennett was one of the best blocking tight ends in football. Pro Football Focus raved about Bennett's blocking ability, but he failed to impress as a receiver. I have always thought that was odd. Considering that Bennett is a physical freak, you would think that he would be great at taking advantage of the mismatches he is going to get with linebackers and safeties.
Bennett just never developed into the offensive weapon that he could have been, and it was extremely frustrating to watch. When his contract ended last year, it was a long shot that he would return to Dallas when he could probably find a starting role on another team. I just didn't expect to see Bennett land with one of our division rivals.
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese took a chance on the talented, but troubled tight end. Bennett signed a one-year $2.5 million deal with the defending Super Bowl champions and he immediately upgraded their tight end situation.
Bennett is putting up the best numbers of his career this season as a member of the New York Giants. So far Eli Manning is taking a liking to his new tight end. Bennett has 25 receptions on 39 targets, 305 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2012. If Bennett continues to become a reliable target for quarterback Eli Manning, then Reese may reward Bennett with a long-term deal.
With the type of personality Martellus has, you would think he would have a lot to say about his former team. Instead of saying something to stir the pot up, Bennett didn't really have too much to say about the Dallas Cowboys.
"I have nothing to show the Cowboys or anything like that," he said to reporters Thursday in New York. "All my emotions are to this organization and to the things that we’re trying to build and relationships I’m trying to build with these guys here, so I have nothing to show them. I have nothing to show to anybody else outside this organization and myself."
I wanted Bennett gone, I made that very clear during the offseason; maybe that was a mistake. With Witten beginning to age, having Bennett on the roster to replace him down the road would be looking real good right about now. It's all hindsight, but did the Cowboys make a mistake by not retaining Martellus Bennett?
Have at in the comment section and tell us your thoughts about Martellus Bennett being a member of the New York Giants.