GREEN BAY — Martellus Bennett spent his 30th birthday in Green Bay Friday, hoping to find a potential fit with the Packers.
After meeting with the coaching staff and touring the facilities, it quickly became clear to the former Pro Bowl tight end that Green Bay is where he wanted to play.
“I’ve been fortunate to play for several historic franchises,” said Bennett shortly after signing.
“Just the history and the legends that played here – to step on the same grass that they did and the same locker room they did, wearing the same uniforms as a lot of those before me have worn is going to be pretty cool.”
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound tight end started his career with Dallas in 2008 before stops with the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and New England Patriots, where he won a Super Bowl ring this past season.
Bennett had 55 receptions for 701 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 regular-season games with New England. He also caught five passes for 62 yards in the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
In his nine NFL seasons, Bennett has caught 403 passes for 4,287 yards and 30 touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014 after catching 90 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns with the Chicago Bears.
Bennett had several encounters against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers during his three years with Chicago. Even watching from afar last year, he came away impressed with the Packers’ culture and the dynamics of the offense.
“I wanted another chance to make a run at it,” Bennett said. “I want to be in a situation where I could win again right now. I have that victory taste in my mouth and I want to taste it again.
“Watching the Pack last year, I saw some things with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and Jordy Nelson outside, Randall Cobb and all the talent on the team, I thought it would be a great place for me to come in and just try to add onto what they already have.”
After catching passes from Tom Brady last season, Bennett is now excited to get chance to work with Rodgers, whom he spoke to shortly after signing with the Packers.
“I hated playing against Aaron,” said Bennett with a laugh. “I just got off the phone with him, I said, ‘I hate that guy on the other side,’ but it’s going to be pretty good to be on the same side with him and catching passes. I’ve seen him make a lot of amazing throws and he’s been one of the best for a really long time. I’m just going to try to come in and contribute to the best of my ability.”
Bennett has played a few games inside Lambeau Field as an opposing player. He fondly remembers it for its unique atmosphere and good playing conditions.
“It’s always been one of the best places to play in the NFL with the fans and the grass is always good there, which is a huge thing, as well,” Bennett said. “It’s always been a hostile environment as an away team. It’ll be good for them to be rooting for you instead of against you because that crowd gets crazy.”
One of the factors that played into Bennett’s decision to sign with Green Bay is the fact he still maintains a residence in Chicago, a short three-hour drive from Lambeau Field.
All things considered, it wasn’t a bad way to celebrate his 30th birthday.
“It was pretty good,” said Bennett of his birthday. “I get to go home and celebrate two things: being a Packer and my birthday, 30th birthday.”