Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski shared a depth chart in New England last season.
Based on Wednesday comments, Packers coach Mike McCarthy believes there’s a chance he got the better of the two in free agency.
McCarthy spoke glowingly about Bennett at the annual head-coach media breakfast in Phoenix. Specifically, he said the 30-year-old may “potentially be” the NFL’s best tight end.
“We had him in our cutups this year, so I got to see him play a lot of football,” McCarthy said, via the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe. “To me, he is one of the best or potentially be the best tight end in the National Football League. It’s my responsibility to make sure I create those opportunities for him to succeed.”
This won’t hurt Bennett’s jersey sales in Green Bay.
McCarthy, it’s worth noting, never made a direct comparison between Bennett or Gronkowski, so he wasn’t searching for the “hot take” that could be deducted from his regard for Bennett’s standing among his peers.
But clearly, McCarthy has done his homework.
He detailed the degree to which he’s studied the Patriots over the years. And Bennett’s three-year, $21 million contract, which includes a $6.3 million signing bonus, adds weight to his words.
“He has very good tape,” McCarthy told reporters. “He was a very productive player in an outstanding offense. I have great respect for the Patriots and especially what they do on offense. We like a lot of things that they do. We keep an eye on what they do up there, particularly with some of the route progressions and more importantly how you use each player throughout the passing game.”
Bennett, predominantly used as a blocker to begin his career, caught 55 of 73 passes last season for 701 yards and seven scores. He is one of two tight ends the Packers signed this month in free agency; former Rams tight end Lance Kendricks is the other.
If nothing else, McCarthy’s praise of Bennett further explains Green Bay’s willingness to let Jared Cook walk this month.
He signed a two-year, $10.6 million contract with the Raiders.