The Seattle Seahawks got a downright steal in unrestricted free agency last season when they signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers underrated defensive end Michael Bennett to a one-year, $5 million deal, and it’s ridiculous how a simple rotator cuff injury caused his value to drop. The Seahawks definitely took full advantage, and their cheap signings of star DEs Bennett and Cliff Avril helped make an already great defense into a defense that was up there with some of the most dominant in the history of the NFL.
Bennett’s elite pass rushing and strong run defense were front-and-center, and there aren’t many defensive linemen who are as well-rounded and disruptive as him. Although the franchise tag was never in play for Bennett, it’s clear that the Seahawks have prioritized him, as they released team leader and ace run-stuffer Red Bryant in order to clear out a significant amount of cap space to re-sign Bennett. The Seahawks are the deepest and most talented team in the NFL, so the fact that they are aggressively looking to lock up Bennett to a long-term deal is a testament to just how talented he is.
The 28-year-old Texas A&M product told Sirius XM NFL Radio’s Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon, via the Seattle Times’s Bob Condotta, “Obviously they want me to be a Seahawk for the rest of my career. But everything plays into the numbers. Have to make sure everything is right.”
He added that talks with the Seahawks have been “positive” to this point, and it’s clear that both sides would like to iron out a long-term deal, and this mutual desire made the franchise tag look like even less likely of an option. Not only did John Schneider state during the combine that the Seahawks wouldn’t use it, but confirmation of the news was reported yesterday by Pro Football Talk.
Anyway, Bennett knows as well as anyone that he’s one of the league’s best defensive players, and he would be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL if he were to hit the free agent market (Brian Orakpo and Jason Worilds were tagged, which would only make Bennett a more valuable pass rusher on the open market). After being low-balled by teams last season, Bennett knows that he’s in the prime of his career and set to make easily the biggest payday of his life, so getting it right is indeed crucial. It will be interesting to see how much the Seahawks offer him, because even though Bennett would like to win more championships, he would also like to maximize his earnings.