The decision of the New York Giants not to retain the services of tight end Martellus Bennett after he hit free agency, thus allowing the Chicago Bears to sign him to a four-year, $20 million contract, should provoke little surprise. Although the 2012 season could be considered a breakout one for Bennett, for the Giants, Bennett's production last year was one of limited value.
Therefore, the Giants should be confident in easily finding a tight end next year, who will be able to replicate the value Bennett provided the team. In fact, it is very likely that the Giants might even find a tight end who can produce at a better rate.
In 2012, Bennett set career-highs in pass targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. However, despite setting new benchmarks in his cumulative stats, Bennett did not have an exceedingly great season on a per-play basis compared to how tight ends across the NFL performed.
According to Football Outsiders' DVOA statistic, Bennett's 3.8 percent DVOA was only good enough to place him 21st out of the 49 tight ends who were targeted for at least 25 passes during the 2012 season. He was above-average in his per-play value, but Bennett was certainly not so good that he made himself indispensable to the Giants offense.
Advanced NFL Stats tell a similar story about how Bennett failed to place himself in the upper echelon of NFL tight ends last season. Bennett's win probability added per game (0.02) and expected points added per play (0.12) were only good for 21st and 24th, respectively, out of the 34 qualifying tight ends.
No matter which way you look at it, Bennett's breakout season was an unimpressive one when compared to the exploits of his more valuable tight end colleagues. Additionally, he did not really make the Giants quarterbacks any better when they threw in his direction.
Using pass target and play-by-play data provided by NFL.com, after I removed Bennett's receiving statistics from his quarterbacks' passing statistics, they underwent a .3 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 59.9 percent to 59.7 percent), no change in yards per pass attempt (7.0), a 3.0 percent increase in adjusted yards per pass attempt (from 6.7 to 6.9), no change in yards per completion (11.7), a 2.1 percent increase in touchdown percentage (from 4.8 percent to 4.9 percent), and a 14.3 percent increase in interception percentage (from 2.4 percent to 2.8 percent).
In no category did Bennett's presence provide an appreciable amount of value to the Giants quarterbacks. Actually, overall, the quarterbacks were slightly better when targeting other receivers.
With the lack of positive impact that Bennett had on the Giants passing game in 2012, the decision to let him walk in free agency must have been an incredibly easy decision for the franchise to make and one that the Giants are unlikely to regret.