Martellus Bennett made significant strides in his first action as a starter this season. He’s a big target with good hands, and though he made a few timely drops, his positive moments outshined the negative.
But like so many impact players on the Giants, Bennett is a free agent. He made around $2 million in 2012, which really was a bargain based on his production.
Given his age (25) and his durability, Bennett may be in line for a multi-year contract after finally seeing the field for the Giants, rather than backing up perennial Pro Bowler Jason Witten in Dallas.
The Giants likely have interest in bringing back Bennett, but again working out deals with Nicks and Cruz seem to be the priority. Those signings will likely directly affect Bennett’s future with the team.
Since he still is young, the Giants have to make a decision on whether to offer him a multi-year deal to make him the team’s long-term tight end. The possibility of using the franchise tag on him could also be an option.
However, with other roster needs, a tight end just isn’t as high on the priority list as figuring out what to do with the receivers and the defense. But maybe signing Bennett should be higher on the list, based on his production.
The Giants re-signed tight end Bear Pascoe, but he’s more of a utility type player that can block out the backfield and catch an occasional pass in the flats. The team also signed tight end Larry Donnell to a futures contract.
Youngster Adrien Robinson may be the X-factor among this group. He only dressed for two games last season, but he’s said to be very athletic. He’s even drawn comparisons to Bennett.
Maybe he’s not ready to take over as the starter, but if the Giants can retain Bennett, Robinson could maybe see some snaps as the backup or even around the goal line.
Robinson will need more time to develop, and maybe given the Giants’ salary cap situation, he’s an affordable option to work with. But the team also needs consistent play from all its personnel, and Robinson may not be ready for that role.
Travis Beckum is coming off a torn ACL and will be a free agent. Unless the Giants are desperate for a tight end later in the offseason, he’s likely played his last game with Big Blue.
So naturally, Bennett would be the ideal candidate to return to see if he can build on his successes of this past year. But the Giants need to have other options ready if Bennett signs elsewhere.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.