Over the last two seasons, the Chicago Bears have had the least productive group of tight ends in the entire NFL. Their positional group, headed by veteran Kellen Davis, has been completely underwhelming while consistently dragging down the Bears’ passing game.
With a new regime in place, head coach Mark Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer are ready to make the tight end position a more consistent threat in the Chicago air attack. If quarterback Jay Cutler is going to start playing up to his potential as a franchise passer, a new pass-catching tight end will need to be added this offseason.
While there will be several options available during free agency, one top target for filling the Bears’ need at tight end is Martellus Bennett.
There’s still a possibility that Bennett could be franchise tagged by his current team, the New York Giants. The team’s owner, John Mara, however, has made it clear that the Giants will “probably not” use their franchise tag this offseason, which means that Bennett will likely be able to test the open market.
If that’s the case, the Bears better take a good, hard look at Bennett to fill their void at tight end.
Bennett is a big, athletic tight end that proved during his one year with the Giants that he can be a productive part of an NFL passing attack. Throughout the 2012 campaign, Bennett managed 55 receptions for 626 yards (11.4 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. In his first year out of the shadow of Jason Witten, Bennett displayed the playmaking that made him a second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2008.
Time and time again in 2012, Bennett was a go-to target for Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Although he occasionally suffered from a case of the drops, Bennett was a reliable safety net and made big plays when the Giants’ offense needed them.
Considering that Bennett caught almost as many passes in 2012 as all four of the Bears tight ends – Davis, Matt Spaeth, Kyle Adams, Evan Rodriguez – he’d be a definite upgrade. He’d be a much better option than Davis, and would help ease Kromer’s pain of leaving behind Jimmy Graham in New Orleans to come coach the tight-end-deficient Bears.
The only roadblock could be money. Considering that Bennett is one of the top potential free agent tight ends in 2013, he’ll be expecting top dollar to sign. The Bears, however, have minimal cap space and are likely to have even less once they franchise tag defensive tackle Henry Melton. If they can work the money issue out, though, there shouldn’t be too many other speed bumps.
Bennett wants to re-sign with the Giants, but he also wanted to be the Cowboys’ top tight end. Life doesn’t always give us what we want. However, if he does want to land a starting gig with a team eager to use its tight end early and often, Bennett would be wise to field offers from the Bears.