Clayton: Seahawks can’t renegotiate Michael Bennett’s contract

Feb 11, 2016, 11:27 AM | Updated: 12:35 pm
Michael Bennett, who signed a four-year deal in 2014, has voiced dissatisfaction with the deal in t...
Michael Bennett, who signed a four-year deal in 2014, has voiced dissatisfaction with the deal in the past. (AP)
(AP)

Michael Bennett is a team leader, arguably the Seahawks’ most dominating defender, and was even named Seattle’s top male athlete of 2015 on Wednesday night. He’s also made it no secret that he’s unhappy with his contract.

Thus the question: Will the Seahawks restructure the defensive end’s deal this offseason to ease the tension?

“No, because I don’t think they want to,” ESPN’s John Clayton told “Brock and Salk” on Thursday. “I mean, they want to make sure that he’s happy, but they also can’t do this at the expense of other guys on the team. Because if you do something for Michael Bennett, then you’re going to have to do something for Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman…”

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Bennett, who turned 30 in November, is coming off the best season of his career, registering 10 sacks and 52 tackles to earn his first Pro Bowl selection. He’s two years into a four-year contract worth $28.5 million, but he skipped some offseason training sessions in 2015 and hinted at a holdout because of dissatisfaction with his deal.

Bennett’s situation is similar to that of strong safety Kam Chancellor, who grew unhappy with a deal he signed in 2013 and held out long enough to miss the first two games of the 2015 season.

Bennett’s $7.125 million per year average salary ranks as No. 19 among the NFL’s defensive ends. Cornerback Sherman and free safety Thomas, meanwhile, are among the top three paid players at their respective positions.

Clayton says everyone realizes that Bennett is underpaid, but that there’s nothing Seattle an do about it.

“Earl Thomas wanted, when he was negotiating his contract, to be one of the top paid defensive players, not (just) the top safety,” Clayton said. “So he wanted the $14 million, not the $10 million. He had to settle for the $10 million. He’ll come back and say, ‘I played in the Super Bowl with a totally torn shoulder, I came back and played everything the next year.’ He’ll come back and he’ll want more, so you really can’t do anything now (with Bennett).”

Clayton said there’s an “outside chance” Seattle could wait to do something with Bennett’s contract in 2017, but can’t see anything getting done this year.

“It’s a shame because he deserves it,” Clayton said. “But if you’re under contract, and you’re in the middle of your contract, and you have a system here where you want to take care of core-group type players – other guys than just the seven or eight that they have right now – you can’t necessarily do anything at this stage.”

The whole conversation with Clayton on “Brock and Salk” can be heard starting around the 15:30 mark of this podcast.

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