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NFL rumors: Weighing the possibility of the Falcons signing Martellus Bennett

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Bennett is still a useful, thoughtful player, but he probably won’t end up in Atlanta.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

Yesterday, the freefalling Green Bay Packers let go off veteran tight end Martellus Bennett. The veteran has indicated he’s going to hang it up after the 2017 season, but he’s still a useful, well-rounded tight end and a great locker room presence, so predictably Falcons fans were grilling me on whether we might see him signed or not.

My default answer is my default answer, and it applies here: The Falcons are probably not going to go out and make that signing you like. Let’s run through why.

Why it makes sense to sign Bennett

There’s no question Bennett can still play. Like Jacob Tamme before him, Bennett’s best used as a soft-handed short passing game target, and he’s a a moderately useful option in the red zone. He can also block fairly well, making him well-rounded enough to play on all three downs.

Atlanta has not gotten stellar performances out of their tight ends in 2017. Austin Hooper has mixed flashes of brilliance with lousy decision-making and play, Levine Toilolo has gone back to being a moderately useful blocker with slight value in the passing game, and Eric Saubert has not been able to get on the field on offense. Bennett would certainly be able to find some playing time in that group.

Why it doesn’t make sense

Plenty of reasons. The Packers cut ties with Bennett because he supposedly failed to disclose a medical condition, and while we don’t know what that condition is, it’s possible that he’s not fully healthy. If he isn’t, he’s not going to be an upgrade on what the Falcons already have.

And frankly, that’s the other piece of the equation. Bennett is not an obvious upgrade over Hooper, who has a ton of talent and just needs to put the pieces together. Toilolo is a fine second tight end for the moment, and I’m ready to see what Saubert can do, even if the coaching staff is bringing him along as slowly as they can. Adding Bennett to the mix adds one more short yardage weapon in the short term, but I’m not at all convinced that’s what the Falcons need at the moment.

I’m guessing the Falcons, like most of us, like the weapons they already have and recognize the need to maximize them. There are other, more tight end-starved teams who can and almost certainly will scoop Bennett up.