One of the worst-kept secrets at Valley Ranch this year was that it would be Martellus Bennett’s last season with the Cowboys.
Days before the soon-to-be 25-year-old tight end hits the free-agency market, he didn’t go so far as to rule out a return to the Cowboys. But he left the lines wide open to read between, saying he was “ready to branch out and become my own entity” after serving as an “apprentice” to Jason Witten for the last four years.
"I want to be the No. 1 guy," Bennett said during a Friday appearance on PFT Live. "I feel like I'm a 60-catch-plus guy on a team, so I want to be in a system where I could do (that). I think a lot of people say the hybrid tight ends or the new type of tight ends are the ones to catch the ball, but I think the perfect tight ends are the ones who could actually block and do things with the ball after they catch it."
The Cowboys used a second-round pick on Bennett in 2008, planning to use him as a weapon in the passing game, but he never developed into anything more than a good blocker as Witten’s backup. The athletic Texas A&M product’s talent has been a tease as he caught only 85 passes for 846 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons.
There’s a chicken-and-egg debate about whether the Cowboys didn’t give Bennett, who hasn’t scored a touchdown since his rookie season, enough opportunities or if he didn’t earn any more opportunities. He’s clearly hoping to land with a team that will feature him in game plans, plus pay him like a starter, and he's arguably the most attractive tight end on the market after Green Bay's Jermichael Finley signed a two-year deal with the Packers and the Redskins used the franchise tag on Fred Davis.
"I want a team that believes in me and the things I'm capable of doing," Bennett said. "I still believe I haven't yet scratched the surface of my potential, and I'm only getting better and better daily, even now. So, I think the sky is the limit for me and really I just want to be in a good organization that believes in the things that I can do and what I bring and what I have to offer."