Last year the Bears wasted no time in snagging the best tight end on the market. Bennett signed a four-year, $20.4 million contract with the Bears after spending time with the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
Bennett responded by having a career year for the second straight season. Still at the young age of 26 years old, the Bears got a bargain in Bennett that will pay off for years to come.
The franchise tag number figures to be around $6.8 million for tight ends this year. Bennett’s average salary over the course of his contract is $5.1 million. That’s a bargain for a tight end who is only getting better.
The top free agent tight ends on the market this year are Jimmy Graham and Dennis Pitta. Both figure to spend at least another season at their respective teams. If a long term deal can’t be reached then both players will be franchised. Graham is worth every penny and then some but what about Pitta?
Pitta had 20 receptions in just four games last year. The season before he had 61 receptions and seven touchdowns. Pitta is no doubt a good tight end but he still comes with a big question mark and is not the player Bennett is.
The Baltimore Ravens will now likely overpay for Pitta. Their passing game took a big dip last season when Anquan Boldin was traded to San Francisco. Torrey Smith is not a true number one option which will force the team to give Pitta at least the franchise.
The Pitta comparison to Bennett shines a light back on the Bears. They made a very smart decision to sign a tight end who’s younger and more productive than Pitta for less money.
Don’t get used to that average franchise number. Once Jimmy Graham gets his, he will inflate the number considerably. Factor in Vernon Davis who will likely ask for a raise soon and Julius Thomas who will hit the open market after 2014 and you have an average salary sure to increase very soon.
There’s a high ceiling for Bennett. He’s becoming a very reliable target with big play capability. What’s keeping him from being an elite tight end is more touchdown production. That does come with an asterisk because he plays with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Both receivers are going to take a lot of touchdowns off the board.
Expect Bennett to be over 60 receptions for the second straight season in 2014. If he has anywhere from 7-10 touchdowns then he becomes a top-five tight end in the league. The big difference is the Bears aren’t forced to pay him like a top five tight end and that’s a huge win.
Curious on who are the best free agent tight ends on the market this year? Here’s the list from out national site. Let us know below how they stack up with Bennett.