Tight end Martellus Bennett has officially been traded from the Chicago Bears to the New England Patriots. The Patriots traded away their fourth-round draft pick for Bennett and received the Bears’ sixth-round draft pick in return. So the big question remains: Is this the return of the Boston TE Party?
Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots certainly hope so. The original Boston TE Party goes back to the 2012 season, when Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were wreaking havoc on NFL defenses in the “Two Tight End” set. With an elite tight end lined up on either side of the offensive line and Tom Brady under center, there was little the opposing defenses could do to stop the Patriots’ offense. In that dominating 2012 season, Gronk and Hernandez set multiple NFL records for tight end duos. They set records for most combined receptions (169), most combined touchdowns (24), and most combined receiving yards (2,237). With one member of the original Boston TE Party still in New England, the Patriots are hoping that bringing in Bennett will help to recapture that same magic that kept defensive coordinators up at night in 2012.
There is still some skepticism on how much Bennett will affect the Patriot offense, however. When tight end Scott Chandler signed with the Patriots just a season ago, many people expected the Patriots to once again dominate NFL defenses in the “Two Tight End” set. These expectations seemed to be validated when Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Scott Chandler started breaking off to a different practice field to practice red zone situations during spring practices. Despite all the promising signs that the Patriots would once again dominate with two tight ends on the field, Scott Chandler could never find a rhythm in the Patriot offense. He ended the season with 23 catches and was ultimately released by the Patriots at the end of the season. So why should we expect the Martellus Bennett trade to result in anything better?
Well, for starters, Scott Chandler is no Martellus Bennett. Scott Chandler came to the New England Patriots with no particularly eye-popping stats; the Patriots were trusting that a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady and a change of scenery would lead to a breakout season for Scott Chandler. Meanwhile, Martellus Bennett has already established himself as one of the premier tight ends in the NFL as shown by Bennett making the Pro Bowl in 2012. While there is some concern about Bennett’s ability to stay on the field after missing 5 games last season with a rib injury, there is still great optimism that the arrival of Bennett could signify the beginning of a new Boston TE Party.