In a stunning turn of events, Ted Thompson finally mustered up the courage to dip into the unrestricted free agent pool for the first time since 2012. Per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the result is a 3-year, $18.45 million deal.
This is shocking shift from the draft-and-develop strategy that Thompson consistently sticks to, which is all the more impressive when you consider Bennett was easily the top tight end on the market. Bennett, 30, is coming off a Super Bowl-winning season with the Patriots in which he caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. Those numbers are actually skewed downwards a bit because Bennett battled a nagging ankle injury throughout the season.
Bennett stands an intimidating 6-foot-6 with a 265-pound frame and is an excellent athlete. He will serve the same up-the-seam role that Jared Cook flourished in last season when Green Bay’s offense was working at its best. A former Rodgers hater, Bennett explained he’s excited to be on the same sideline as #12, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and the Lambeau faithful.
Thompson reportedly shifted his efforts to Bennett after talks with Cook broke down. Considering Dion Sims – who it’s possible you’ve never heard of – got a similar deal from the Bears, it should already be considered one of the better steals in free agency. After seeing what Rodgers and the offense looked like with Cook in top form, it made a lot of sense to open the checkbook for an ever better tight end. Bennett is unique in that he’s also one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, which will help the running game and make the offense less predictable. He’s also known for being quite the character off the field.
Time will only tell if Thompson has any more free agency tricks up his sleeve. Is signing a cornerback too much to ask for? I feel greedy for even asking.