2012 NFL Free Agency: The New York Jets Should Target Dallas Cowboys TE Martellus Bennett
Last week I wrote a little something about Dustin Keller, and I knew it wasn’t going to be a very popular piece.
Many fans like Keller and don’t share the same views I do on him. That’s fair. Everyone’s got their opinion, and I’ve got mine. I personally don’t think he’s a particularly good fit for the New York Jets.
I will reiterate, however, that I fully expect to see Keller return to the Jets in 2012. He’s under contract and I can’t see them getting rid of him now, as much as I’d like to see it.
I’d like to have a tight end who can be a factor as a blocker in the running game. Someone who can go out and catch a pass when called upon but is a true tight end. A block-first tight end.
Before new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, he called plays for the 2006 Dallas Cowboys and did a pretty good job in that role.
The Cowboys, of course, have a pretty spectacular tight end in Jason Witten. He’s a gamebreaking weapon that any offense would be lucky to have.
However, back in 2006, they also drafted a rookie tight end in the second round named Anthony Fasano who was a big factor as a blocker and was a competent receiver when needed.
When Sparano got the head coaching job in Miami in 2008, he traded for Fasano and made him the starting tight end, where he’s continued to have a pretty productive career.
Fasano has never been the type of tight end who burns a defense with a big catch, but his impact as a blocker at the line of scrimmage has made him a terrific weapon for Miami.
Looking at the tight ends on the Jets current roster, there is no Fasano-type tight end for Sparano to work with. However, if he looks in a familiar place, he may find just the guy.
That guy is Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett.
Like Fasano, Bennett was drafted by Dallas in the second round of the draft to be the second tight end alongside Witten.
Bennett came out of Texas A&M in 2008, and he was projected to be a productive receiver who needed to improve his blocking.
Somehow, Bennett has reversed that. According to Pro Football Focus, Bennett has become a tremendous blocker (+8.2 run blocking score in 2011) and is ranked as PFF’s best free agent blocking tight end.
PFF’s Sam Monson on the 24-year-old Bennett:
The athleticism is still there, and it is possible that stepping out from the shadow of one of the league’s best will allow him to grow in that regard going forward. The interesting thing about Bennett is that he blocks extremely well, which a rare commodity even for the top tight ends. He may be more attractive to teams that still like to establish the run game before they take to the air.
Bennett was drafted 61st overall the same year that the Jets drafted Keller 30th. Keller is already 27-years-old, while Bennett does not turn 25 until March 10, three days before the start of free agency.
Bennett is a freak of an athlete at 6’6, 275 pounds, and is a willing run blocker who has excelled at it thus far in his young career.
To me, he would be a perfect fit for the Jets. He can be the latest second-string tight end to leave Dallas and become an integral piece in Tony Sparano’s offense.
The only question is how much he’ll cost. Perhaps teams will see his pedestrian numbers as a receiver (85 catches, 846 yards in four seasons) and back off.
I don’t expect the Jets to make tight end a priority this offseason. I believe they’re happy with Keller and the athletic Jeff Cumberland, who is returning from an Achilles injury.
The guy I want is Martellus Bennett, a young, capable blocker with serious size who can give the Jets a long-term option at the position.
I mentioned my affinity for Bennett’s game on Twitter and my hope to see him in a Jets uniform, possibly teaming up with Keller, and it seems like Bennett is a fan of the possibility.
If the Jets are serious about committing to a double tight end, run-first offense, Bennett would be the perfect fit. The only question is if the Jets can find the cap room to take a flier on him.
I’m hoping the Jets take notice of his talents and bring him in. I’m not overly optimistic they’ll be looking at free agent tight ends too much, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.