Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers not prioritizing Michael Bennett

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a couple of defensive lineman set to hit the free agent market tomorrow, and the biggest one is defensive end Michael Bennett- their biggest free agent this offseason. Several teams have shown interest in Bennett, and one of those teams in the Tennessee Titans, who look hungry to sign talent in the trenches this offseason (they are going hard after Buffalo Bills guard Andy Levitre).

Bennett put together another great season in 2012, and he built on his solid success last year as a pass rusher. In a contract year, Bennett put up 23 hits on the quarterback and was easily the most productive member of an inconsistent Buccaneers pass rush. The Bucs will most likely not be able to re-sign Bennett, and it sounds like they aren’t exactly going hard after him either.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Bennett is “not a priority” for the Bucs this offseason, despite the fact that he is one of the best impending free agent DEs (likely second behind Cliff Avril) and wants to stay in Tampa Bay. The Bucs would be losing one of the game’s best all-around DEs, as Bennett’s forte comes as a run-stopper. Just as he did in 2011, Bennett put on a show against the run.

The Times also notes that former Atlanta Falcons standout John Abraham could be a target for the Buccaneers to replace Bennett, but it is unclear at the moment if Abraham will take a trip to Dale Mabry and check out the Bucs on a visit after visiting the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers on a west coast visit.

The Bucs priority this offseason is likely to sign a cornerback, because they desperately need one. At this point in time, it seems like they are heavily targeting Derek Cox and Sean Smith.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter for more NFL updates and analysis @SorianoJoe.

Tags: John Abraham Michael Bennett Nfl Free Agency Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • RussMillerWY

    I know the Bucs think they have two starting caliber ends but letting Bennett walk when they have 30 million to spend is a mistake. They could sign three of him for that. Clayborn and Bowers are young and were high draft picks, but neither of them have shown they can play at Bennett’s level. We’ll regret this.

    • Joe Soriano

      I completely agree with you, the Bucs seemingly hardball stance on Bennett is illogical, and they are overestimating Clayborn and Bowers. Both of them are “upside” guys, and that is basically another word for “inconsistent”. Without Bennett, the Bucs pass rush is going to be quite poor, and the run defense will suffer as well. They had better upgrade at CB even heavier, because they don’t have a pass rush to fall back on without Bennett.