In this post I'll take a look at the tight end position heading into (hopefully) the start of free agency very soon. If the Cowboys stand pat at this position I don't think they will get many complaints from any fans. But I'm not sure how much longer the coaches will be willing to tolerate the immaturity of Martellus Bennett and I don't know if Marty B. will continue to be happy playing second fiddle to Jason Witten.
Jason Witten - Do I really need to say anything here? Witten is the best all-around tight end in the NFL. He is well on his way to a hall of fame career. And he is a great team leader both on and off the football field. There are some idiots talking about trading Witten while his value is at its peak but the Cowboys cannot seriously consider trading one of the core players on the roster. Witten will most likely retire a Cowboy.
Martellus Bennett - Where do I start? On one hand, Martellus is an excellent blocker. He is reliable both as a run blocker and as a pass blocker. But the Cowboys thought they were getting a play maker when the used a 2nd round pick on Marty B. back in 2008. You can argue that he hasn't been given enough opportunities to show what he can do as a receiver but I think it was easy to see that he has already lost a lot of the quickness and athleticism over the last two years by gaining too much weight. Maybe the coaches have asked him to put on weight so he can be a more effective blocker, but the added weight has definitely slowed him down. Martellus believes he can be a starter somewhere else. And maybe he is right. If the price is right I wouldn't mind seeing the Cowboys trade Martellus Bennett given the fact that John Phillips should be back at 100% heading into next season.
John Phillips - Last preseason Phillips was starting to emerge as a force in the passing game. It looked like he had a real shot to unseat Marty B. as the #2 tight end. But then the dreaded ACL injury happened and Phillips was lost for the season. He seems to be everything Martellus is not. A hard worker, a guy who pays attention to detail and a receiver who has the trust of his quarterbacks. Phillips needs to improve as a blocker but he added about 15 pounds of muscle between his first and second season and he has had a long time to work on his strength since he missed the entire 2010 season. I think there will be a good battle between Martellus and Phillips this year in training camp if the Cowboys don't trade Martellus this offseason. I expect Phillips to eventually overtake Martellus as the #2 tight end.
Martin Rucker - Rucker got a shot last season thanks to the injuries the Cowboys sustained at tight end. He has no shot of making the roster next year if the Cowboys keep Martellus. If the Cowboys do trade Bennett I expect there to be more competition for Rucker in training camp from either a free agent or new draft pick.
Overall the tight end position is one of the greatest positions of strength for the Cowboys. I'll be happy either way if they decide to keep or trade Martellus Bennett. It would probably make the most sense to keep the trio of Witten, Bennett, and Phillips together for at least one more season and focus the offseason roster moves on greater areas of need.