“When I got here I met with [tight ends] coach [Mike] Pope and once we
started talking, we hit it off,” the newly-signed tight end said. “It was kind
of like love at first sight.”
Justin Tuck and a few other players aided in the Giants' courting throughout
the day, and, just like that, Bennett and the team made a commitment -- a short
one, but a commitment nonetheless.
Today, the two sides agreed on a one-year deal reportedly worth $2.5 million
three days into free agency.
For the Giants, the one-year deal gives them the low-risk, high-reward,
“prove it to us" route they seek, as they did with cornerback Terrell Thomas
yesterday. The Giants were forced into the tight end free-agent market after
both Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum tore their ACLs during the Super Bowl,
leaving their statuses for next year in question.
For the 25-year-old Bennett, now a former Cowboy, the commitment provides him
the opportunity to showcase his talents after being behind Pro Bowler Jason
Witten on the depth chart in Dallas for four seasons.
“He is anxious to prove the quality of athlete and football player that he
can be,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “If you go back to ’08, '09, '10, '11, you can
see spots where he flashes as what he could be.”
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Bennett is an athletic pass-catcher who follows the
narrative of some of the league’s premier tight ends. Like Jimmy Graham, Antonio
Gates and others, Bennett also played college basketball while at Texas A&M
before choosing football full-time.
But during his time as a Cowboy, he served as Witten's backup and only
started 32 games in four years. His most productive season came as a rookie when
he caught 20 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (seven starts)
in 2008. He has not caught a touchdown since.
For his career, he has played 60 games in four seasons -- starting 32 of them
-- with 85 receptions for 846 yards.
Ballard and Beckum or not, Bennett hopes to emerge as the every-down tight
end next season and beyond for the first time in his career.
“I think you got to see a glimpse, but I was in a limited role,” Bennett said
of his time in Dallas. “I think in a larger role I can do so much more. I think
the sky’s the limit. I don’t think anyone’s really seen who I am as a player and
what I have to offer.
“I don’t want to say I have a lot to prove, but I have a long to-do list so I
have a lot of things I need to do as a football player so I think this is a
place where I have the opportunity to do everything I want to do.”
Jorge Castillo: firstname.lastname@example.org