Patriots TE Martellus Bennett, a pending free agent and former Giant, might be willing to consider a return to New York this offseason.
"Haha. I don't know," said Bennett when asked if he would contemplate signing with the Giants. "But I always loved it there. (General manager) Jerry Reese and all those guys are great, the Mara and Tisch families are one of the best owners in the world. I liked it up there."
New York took a chance on Bennett in 2012, giving the tight end his first opportunity to start after he was the backup to Jason Witten in Dallas for four years. Bennett caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns that season, providing the Giants with some rare offensive production from the tight end position. Due to salary cap issues, the Giants were unable to re-sign Bennett the following offseason, and the Houston-native joined the Bears.
The Giants have been hard-pressed to find much success from their tight ends ever since.
"I love the Giants," said Bennett. "That was one of my favorite organizations ever. A lot of guys have been on the same team for so long, so they always ask me about other organizations, and I always tell them how awesome the Giants were.
"It was my first chance to really be a starter. Playing with Eli Manning, who is one of the best quarterbacks of all time to me, and with the guys I had at the time - Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz - everybody was in their prime, and it was just a great group of guys. ... That time was a period of all the stuff that I watched in my first four years, trying to bring it together and finding my own way of doing it, and becoming myself as a player."
The Giants will enter the offseason with more financial flexibility if they choose to make a run at signing Bennett. And with Larry Donnell set to hit free agency, New York could pair Bennett with Jerell Adams and Will Tye to create a very formidable tight end group.
"It was a phenomenal year for me in life. New York changed me as a human being," the tight end said. "I always say that in Texas you can be a horse, but in New York you can be a unicorn. It was a very impactful year, not only on the field, but as a person as well. I grew up a lot there."
In his first season with the Patriots, Bennett caught 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns despite dealing with knee and ankle injuries.
The Giants would likely explore a second act with Bennett but only if the price is right. Eli was not particularly enamored with Bennett after he felt Bennett didn't sell out on a few plays. That doesn't appear to be his problem any longer as he's played hurt for the Pats for most of the season. Bennett may end up staying in New England should Rob Gronkowski not be able to return, which could force the Giants to bid up for him. Not sure they'd be willing to do that even though Bennett would be a severe upgrade over their current TE group.