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Kellen Davis was signed by the Cleveland Browns after a Bears career that was unforgettable for the wrong reasons.
With Kellen Davis’s ignominious Bears career finally over, Chicago pursued former Cowboys and Giants tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency.
Bennett has only been a starter for one season; he was behind Jason Witten during some of Witten’s best years in Dallas.
Bennett was pretty productive in that lone season, posting 626 receiving yards with five touchdowns.
Limited starting experience makes the lover of Cap’n Crunch (you’re welcome for this YouTube link) a relatively unproven commodity, though, as his 2012 campaign could be a fluke.
It seems unlikely, but there’s always that chance in the NFL.
The most disconcerting part of Bennett’s game is that he doesn’t have top-quality hands. His catch percentage was alarmingly low last year—only 61.1 percent (55 receptions on 90 targets). Some of the best percentages posted by elite tight ends were 75.0 percent (Tony Gonzalez) and 73.3 percent (Jason Witten). Former Bears tight end Greg Olsen caught 66.3 percent of passes thrown his way.
Bennett is still a good tight end and an obvious upgrade over Davis, but there’s no guarantee that he will produce at a top-10 level for the position. Considering how much Jay Cutler leaned on Brandon Marshall last season, the Bears need diversity and production in the passing game more than ever.
It’s surprising that the Bears didn’t select a tight end in the draft to pair with Bennett. It’s possible that Bennett doesn’t produce at a high level, but there’s more than that. In today’s NFL, it’s wise to have two pass-catching tight ends.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez popularized the ultra-talented tight end duo. This year, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted top tight end Tyler Eifert to play with Jermaine Gresham. Rookie Zach Ertz will join Brent Celek as a Philadelphia Eagle.
The Bears would be smart to secure another big, talented tight end that can create match-up problems. Bennett was a good signing, but he could still underperform. Acquiring a contingency plan is advisable.
More importantly, imagine Bennett doesn’t underperform. Now imagine offensive sets with Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett, and another 6’5” tight end. That would open up countless new opportunities for Chicago.
The league is evolving yet again, and the Bears need to adjust to the new tight end paradigm.
Best option available now: Discounting restricted free agents, 6'6" Kevin Boss, who had some decent years for the New York Giants.