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Green Bay’s Passing Attack Just Got Even More Terrifying

Former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett gives Aaron Rodgers a much-needed threat over the middle

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Deal

Former New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett will sign with the Green Bay Packers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. While terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, we can already say one thing: Happy birthday, Martellus!

The Appeal

The Packers don’t normally do this.

But Bennett is what their offense has been missing. Green Bay tried to solve its lack of size and reliability over the middle by signing Jared Cook last offseason, but Cook’s combination of shaky hands and a high ankle sprain led to just 377 yards on 30 receptions in 10 regular-season games — not exactly what GM Ted Thompson had in mind when he secured a 6-foot-4 weapon for Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers haven’t boasted a reliable tight end since Jermichael Finley (the platonic ideal of the position, as far as Green Bay fans like yours truly are concerned), and acquiring Bennett puts yet another threat on an offense that finished fourth in DVOA in 2016 and delivered a six-game stretch of 30-plus-point outings that covered the end of the regular season and the postseason.

The Fit

Is “pretty great” an acceptable answer?

With Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Bennett, and Ty Montgomery, the Packers are nearly set at the skill positions. Rodgers makes the defense pick its poison by spreading the ball around, and adding yet another dimension to an offense that can get the likes of Richard Rodgers 500 yards in a season stands to make this passing attack even more prolific. The youthful secondary and generally porous defense are still concerns, but Rodgers and Co. might score enough that it doesn’t matter.

Among all of the positive attributes that Bennett can bring to this team, two stand out. First: He’s reliable. Bennett, Greg Olsen, and Jason Witten are the only three tight ends with at least 40 catches in each of the last five seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Bennett was also second among tight ends in reception rate last season. Second: He knows how it feels to win. He’s coming off a Super Bowl victory with the Pats that capped one of the best regular seasons of his career, with Bennett posting 701 yards and seven touchdowns on 55 receptions last season. He’s 30 now, so he’s likely not a long-term solution for the Packers, but at a minimum, he’ll provide valuable production and leadership in the short term.

The Verdict

The King of Relax is back to manage fan expectations, but the eyebrow wag gives him away: Rodgers looks pumped to once again have a productive big man over the middle. The Packers still have pressing issues to address on defense, but this move opens up the field for Cobb in the slot and Nelson down the sideline, and for a team that came within one win of playing for the Lombardi Trophy, that’s a solid start to the offseason.