Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The news of the day on franchise tag deadline day was that Jared Cook was NOT franchised by the Titans. He instantly became the most coveted free agent tight end on the market. Meanwhile, Martellus Bennett and Brandon Myers are solid options also on the market, who may slip under the radar, and see their price decline due to Cook’s presence on the market. So let’s consider just the kind of impact Myers and Bennett could have on the Tampa Bay offense.
Last year a major piece missing from the Bucs offense was a true threat to catch the ball at tight end. Dallas Clark‘s corpse did a decent job catching 47 balls for 435 yards. But compare that to Myers 806 yards or Bennett’s 626 and you can easily see the potential room for improvement.
Both Myers and Bennett are big guys who pose a huge threat in the red zone. The Bucs have two solid red zone receivers in Jackson and Williams, and a third option would allow the Bucs to really spread it out down around the goal line. The big tight end would also allow the Bucs to keep the extra man in and pound it up the gut, something Clark wasn’t so useful in doing, usually giving way to Luke Stocker and Nate Byham. Plus, pass catching tight ends are becoming a commodity in the NFL lately, and becoming a bigger part of NFL offenses. Just look at the Patriots. I can’t say I trust Stocker or Byham as a first option for Josh Freeman to throw to in 2013.
Myers would come in having been a go to guy, and would be a nice outlet option for Josh when the first and second reads aren’t there. He’s also a good third down guy because of his good hands and big body. Bennett is an interesting option because of what many think he can be. He’s a physical specimen like not many other tight ends at 6’6″ and 265 pounds. Tell me that’s not a mismatch waiting to happen. He hasn’t really come into his own in the league yet, because both the Giants and Cowboys used him sparingly. Give him more opportunities, and he has the talent to really shine.
Sure, Jared Cook would be a huge upgrade for the Bucs, but they could save a few bucks and go for someone a little lower on the ladder, who could easily have the same impact, if not more. The offense was good last year, but adding another weapon never hurts. Think of all the times you sat around thinking “Wait until Dallas Clark becomes a bigger part of this offense.” Now imagine if instead of a man hanging on to a career by the skin of his teeth, they stick someone with real upside in this offense. Then we can stop talking about the tight end being meaningful, and start seeing it.