Martellus Bennett spent four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys as the backup tight end to Jason Witten before joining the New York Giants as a free agent this season. Dallas coach Jason Garrett made it pretty obvious on Saturday that the Cowboys aren't exactly broken up over losing the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Bennett to their NFC East rival, calling Bennett a "complementary player."
"Martellus is complementary; I think we played to his strengths. We felt like he was a very good run-blocker and a very good pass-protector, and when he got opportunities in the passing game, he generally did a very good job with those as well," Garrett said on Saturday.
The Giants think Bennett, 25, can be much more than that.
Coach Tom Coughlin called Bennett a "vertical threat," and the Giants are hoping Bennett turns into their most productive tight end since Jeremy Shockey. The Giants have had productive players at tight end in Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard, but Coughlin referred to Bennett as a "different type of threat."
The Giants signed Bennett to a one-year contract, giving him the opportunity to prove that he can be a front-line tight end in the NFL. As tight ends coach Mike Pope put it, the Giants are giving Bennett the chance to "not be Jason Witten Jr. anymore."
Bennett admitted that his time with the Cowboys was frustrating.
"When I was with Dallas, it used to be a little discouraging because I'd be like, ‘Damn, I worked on my routes all summer, and then I get to the game, and I didn't get to run that many routes.' Here, I felt like everything I worked on during the off-season would be put to use in the offense. So I kicked it up a couple of notches because I have a lot riding on this season and on myself," Bennett said.
Bennett also said during the preseason that "it's time for me to start building my own legacy."
Bennett gets the chance to begin building that legacy on Wednesday. Fittingly, the opportunity comes against the team he seems to believe never gave him that chance.