DANNY ONEIL

Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 9, DL Michael Bennett

Jul 28, 2016, 8:28 AM | Updated: 8:29 am
Michael Bennett's contract situation is one of the leading stories heading into training camp. (AP)...
Michael Bennett's contract situation is one of the leading stories heading into training camp. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 9, DL Michael Bennett

Each day until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is talking with an NFL analyst and counting down the 25 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. “Two-a-days” continued with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Dave Wyman as the guest and Michael Bennett as the ninth-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Bennett is embedded above. My thoughts are below.

Position: DL
Height/Weight: 6-4, 274
Experience: Eighth season
Acquired: Signed as free agent, 2013

Overview: Bennett is the most versatile of Seattle’s defensive linemen and probably the most valuable coming off his first Pro Bowl season. He’s also the most vexing contractual question for the team heading into this season. He’s entering the third year of a deal that will pay him an average of $7.125 million annually. That was what the market was offering when he was a free agent in 2014. But it has been lapped by this year’s free-agent market in which defensive linemen like Olivier Vernon (Giants) and Malik Jackson (Jaguars) pulled in twice that much. Bennett came off the bench his first year in Seattle, became a starter in 2014 and a Pro Bowler last season. At the age of 30, he’s hoping to cash in now. However, there are two seasons left on Bennett’s deal, and Seattle has made it a policy to wait until there’s no more than a year remaining to extend contracts.

The intrigue: The biggest question with Bennett isn’t about his level of play, but his contract. Specifically, will he get a new one? And what will he do if he doesn’t? Ross Tucker, a former NFL offensive lineman who now appears on SiriusXM NFL Radio, had some ideas. “If I were him, I’d hold out,” Tucker said of Bennett on 710 ESPN Seattle. “I mean, he’s one of the five best defensive linemen in the league. I don’t think people realize how good Michael Bennett is when you look at his versatility, what he can do for you, the different places he can line up, how disruptive he is as a pass-rusher.” Bennett joined Seattle as an unrestricted free agent in 2013, signing a one-year deal worth $5 million. The following year, he re-signed with the Seahawks after they matched the Bears’ four-year, $28.5 million offer. “Obviously, we think he’s a hell of a football player,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said of Bennett while talking with John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle. “That’s why we acquired him from Tampa Bay, and we were able to match Chicago’s deal several years ago right in that first couple days of the unrestricted free-agency window… Like I said earlier, there’s 90 guys on this team and everybody has their own story and situation, whether it’s personal and professional. We’re always going to try and do what’s best for everybody. We have to look at what’s best for the team first.”

2016 outlook: He’s undersized for a defensive tackle and not as fast as you’d expect for a pass-rushing defensive end, yet Bennett makes up for that with his quickness off the snap and his technique. He is great with his hands, and he is coming off a career-high 10 sacks. He also played more snaps than the Seahawks would have liked, on the field for more than 80 percent of Seattle’s defensive plays last season. Seattle hopes the selection of defensive tackle Jarran Reed in the second round and the development of second-year end Frank Clark will help lighten Bennett’s workload.

Most Intriguing Seahawks: 25, DL Quinton Jefferson; 24, WR Kasen Williams; 23, WR Paul Richardson; 22, G Mark Glowinski; 21, TE Nick Vannett; 20, CB Jeremy Lane; 19, DT Jordan Hill; 18, RB Alex Collins; 17, S Tyvis Powell; 16, G Germain Ifedi; 15, QB Russell Wilson; 14, FS Earl Thomas; 13, CB Tharold Simon; 12, WR Doug Baldwin; 11, WR/KR Tyler Lockett; 10, LT Garry Gilliam.

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