Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin want quality players who are quality people.
But over time, that alone can get a bit ponderous. Fans (not to mention the media) wouldn’t mind a little pizzazz to go along with production.
Which is why Martellus Bennett would be an intriguing – and dare we say fun – replacement to outgoing tight end Anthony Fasano.
While Fasano is at times as exciting as Ambien – he’s a Parcells type-guy, through and through – you literally have no clue what Bennett, who spent 2012 with the Giants after four years with the Cowboys, will say from one moment to the next.
His self-styled nickname is Black Unicorn. Why? Because his skill set – athleticism, size and blocking ability – is so rare, Bennett says.
At the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine, the two-sport star told reporters that “football is my wife and basketball is my mistress.”
And his Twitter account – Bennett uses the handle @JoeGryffindor because he’s a huge Harry Potter fan – is a riot.
Just a taste of his recent musings:• “Being on the [free agent] market is a good thing when you’re pretty. Last year I was ugly and I did aight. A prettier Marty this year.”
• “Flight attendants are always prettier in first class but they don’t have the quality of conservation as the ones in the back.”
And• “The wife thinks I’m crazy for suggesting she goes to the grocery store in the Bentley. My favorite place to go in it is Popeyes.”
And that’s just in the last week.
FROM COWBOYS TO GIANTS
But with Bennett, his packaging has never been an issue. He’s pure entertainment. The question has been with his performance.
During his four non-descript years in Dallas, he was known more for taking shots at Tony Romo than catching touchdowns from him.
He sought to change that narrative in New York, where Bennett – the younger brother of Buccaneers pass-rusher Michael Bennett – excelled in 2012, playing out a one-year contract.
Bennett set career highs in catches (55), receiving yardage (626) and touchdowns (5). And along the way, he positioned himself as the No. 1 tight end option in free agency, according to Pro Football Focus.
“He had already shown himself as a great run-blocker, and this year proved he can support the passing game as well, as he posted 70 or more yards in four games,” the website opined. “While he may never lead the league as a receiving tight end, it is rare to find someone who can truly do it all at the position.”
Bennett, a 6-foot-6, 265-pounder, takes particular pride in being the NFL’s version of a Swiss Army Knife.
“People think they’re suppose(d) to do one or the other,” he wrote on Twitter recently. “Get one that can block and one that can run routes. That’s stupid.”
With Bennett, it has never been one or the other – in anything he has done.
Raised in Houston, he was one of Texas’ top prospects at both football and basketball as a high school senior. He mulled entering the NBA Draft (this was before the league barred 18-year-olds from going pro) before ultimately deciding to play both sports at Texas A&M.
He played hoops his first two years before focusing solely on football, and positioned himself as a high draft pick after his junior year.
Now, after stops in Dallas and New York, Bennett is in his prime, playing the best football of his career – and in line for a big payday.
He has been training at Bommarito Performance in Aventura and owns a place in South Florida.
Which leads to a natural question: Are the Dolphins – who desperately need a seam-busting tight end – an option?
Let’s go to the source (on Twitter, of course):
“I think [Ryan Tannehill] will improve a lot this year,” Bennett wrote. “I like that the kid. I recruited him at A&M.”
He added: “I would [sign with Miami]. My new crib will be close lol.”