Packers 2017 Recap: TE Martellus Bennett
A free agent signing out of nowhere.
Sleeping in the locker room. Captain Fun.
A gif party.
A drop. Another drop. A drop on the play that effectively ended Aaron Rodgers’ season.
Pondering retirement on Instagram.
A painful and public end.
- Appeared in seven games with seven starts (388 snaps on offense, 1 snap on special teams)
- Caught 24 passes for 233 yards (9.7 yards per catch)
Expectations going into the season: High
Expectations were: Not met
Analysis: A free agent splash turns into a belly flop
It’s somewhat fitting that Ted Thompson’s last offseason as general manager featured a free agent signing that in some ways proved his overly cautious attitude towards free agents right.
Bennett came to Green Bay amidst fanfare virtually unprecedented in the Thompson era. Like Julius Peppers before him, Bennett signed with Green Bay apparently out of nowhere, inking a deal just hours after the Packers had reportedly ended their negotiations with Jared Cook.
The deal was so unexpected and so exciting given Bennett’s previous contributions that virtually everyone in Packers media was caught up in the euphoria, The Power Sweep included. We convened a special episode of Blue 58 just to discuss the news on top of writing two special pieces about the Bennett signing.
But in the end, it was our third piece about Bennett that proved the most prescient. 10 days after the signing, Gary penned a piece with the non-judgmental but still cautionary title “Martellus Bennett Will Make Headlines in Green Bay.”
Without casting aspersions on Bennett’s ability to fit in, the piece rightly raised questions about some of Bennett’s more unusual antics in the past, including this selection from his (at that point) lone season in New England:
- Bennett said he wanted to be paid in gold
- Bennett raised his fist during the national anthem
- Bennett said he channeled Luke Cage, a fictional Marvel superhero, in forcing himself to play through an injury
- Bennett tweeted at NASA and got himself invited to tour their facility
- Bennett gave Johnny Manziel a ticket to the AFC Championship Game
As it turned out, any of those displays would have been preferable to how things ended with the Packers.
I won’t labor over the details of Bennett’s departure; they are well known and there’s no need to recount what is already too familiar.
What is worth mentioning, though, is how quickly the facade of frivolity fell away. One week, Bennett was converting all three of his targets into big plays and posting his best yardage total of the season against the Cowboys.
Just two weeks later, he was sulking through a two catch effort against the Saints in what would turn out to be his last game during the Packers. Apparently the difficulty of life without Aaron Rodgers proved too much for Bennett’s fun loving heart to bear.
If a player is truly revealed during times of adversity, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Bennett was more like the hard to manage handful he was during his early career than the relatively harmless goofball who showed up with the Patriots in 2016.