RENTON — A year ago Michael Bennett was a key offseason addition for the Seattle Seahawks. On Monday, the Seahawks made sure the defensive lineman wouldn’t become a significant offseason departure, signing one of their best and most versatile defensive players to a four-year deal.
Bennett, who last season had 8.5 sacks and was disruptive as both an end and as an interior rusher, bet on himself last offseason by agreeing to a one-year deal with Seattle when there wasn’t a big market for pass rushers in free agency. That gamble paid off Monday in the form of a deal reportedly worth $28.5 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money.
As recently as Sunday, Seattle’s ability to keep Bennett seemed very much in doubt. The Chicago Tribune reported that the Bears were close to landing Bennett, and Bears tight end Martellus Bennett has been publicly recruiting his brother since the season ended.
And according to multiple reports, Bennett had more money on the table from Chicago and one unnamed team than he received from Seattle. Bennett confirmed he did take less money in order to stay where he is comfortable while chasing another Super Bowl title.
“There was more, but I wanted to be here, man,” he said. “There’s a lot of young guys here, a lot of winning ways, and I just love the organization and the things they’re about. From the equipment staff to the medical staff, it just goes on and on. Everybody here, they’re good people and I really enjoy that.
“At the end of the day, it was about being comfortable, being in a good situation. Sometimes going to a new organization doesn’t work out the way it worked out for me coming here being with these guys.”
Keeping Bennett was one of Seattle’s top offseason priorities along with trying to re-sign receiver Golden Tate, who will become an unrestricted free agent at 1 p.m. PDT today if he and the Seahawks can’t agree to a new deal before then.
Bennett played a significant role in Seattle’s Super Bowl run while lining up all over the defensive line, and will likely see his role increase after playing 57 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps last season.
With starting defensive end Red Bryant now in Jacksonville, having been released to fee up salary cap space, Bennett figures to see more playing time in Seattle’s base defense at end. There has been a lot of speculation that the Seahawks will release defensive end Chris Clemons as well to save money, which would also alter the defensive line rotation.
“We had hopes that he would be a real contributor, and he exceeded our expectations and we’re excited to keep him,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told SeriusXM NFL Radio. “He’s got great energy, a terrific motor, and he’s a very versatile football player. We really need to play him more. He didn’t play a lot of plays in the first half of the season, then he played more as the year went on and we just got better.
“We’re very fortunate we were able to figure this out.”
The fact that Bennett’s first big multi-year deal comes with the team that signed him as an undrafted rookie in 2009 isn’t lost on him.
Bennett was a little-known player who made that Seahawks team after an impressive preseason, only to be released early in the regular season. Bennett caught on in Tampa Bay, then made a name for himself with the Buccaneers in 2012 when he started all 16 games and had 9 sacks. He returned to Seattle as a free agent last spring, and now will stay with the Seahawks while they try to build off of their Super Bowl success.
“It feels good,” Bennett said. “To start the way I started, being undrafted, coming in with the Seahawks and making the team, going away, coming back and winning a Super Bowl, now getting a chance to get another deal here. … And I love the fans here; that’s one of the main reasons I came back here. To get this deal here, it means a lot to me.”
Tighte end McCoy reportedly re-signs with Seahawks
Tight end Anthony McCoy, who missed the entire 2013 season with a torn Achilles tendon, has agreed to a new deal that will keep him in Seattle for 2014 according Yahoo! Sports’ Rand Getlin.
McCoy had 18 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, and figured to play significantly in 2013 as a pass-catching tight end, but he tore his Achilles in a May workout with the team.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.