If the Seahawks are going to re-sign defensive end Michael Bennett, they’re not going to be able to do so before he tests his value on the open market. According to multiple reports (ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first) Bennett won’t re-sign with Seattle before free agency begins on March 11.
Seattle DE Michael Bennett will be testing the free agent market and will not be re-signing with the Seahawks before March 11th, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2014
And according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the Seahawks have an offer on the table to Bennett, but he wants to see what’s out there before deciding.
Seattle has made an offer to Michael Bennett, who has left it on the table to seek others. Will see if he returns. Oak, Chicago, others wait
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2014
While the Seahawks would have preferred to sign Bennett before free agency begins, this news is hardly surprising, nor does it mean the Seahawks can’t keep him. If you’ll recall the 2012 offseason, defensive end Red Bryant tested the market, had other suitors, including serious interest from New England, then ended up signing with Seattle. And really, unless the Seahawks blew Bennett away with a huge offer, why wouldn’t he want to make sure he was maximizing his value in free agency.
And let’s also remember what Bennett said when asked if he would take a “hometown discount” to stay in Seattle: “There’s no such thing as discount. This is not Costco, this is not Walmart, this is real life. There’s no discount, because you go out there and you don’t give a discount on effort. You go out there and give the best effort every day and fight for y our teammates, and you want to be compensated for the way you perform and the kind of teammate that you are.”
Bennett didn’t draw the interest he was hoping in free agency a year ago and ended up signing a one-year deal with Seattle. Now Bennett is coming off another strong season in which he had 8.5 sacks for the Super Bowl champs, and at 28 is looking at what is likely his last significant payday, so it’s only natural he wants to make sure he isn’t settling for below market value prior to free agency.
The Seahawks’ inability to re-sign Bennett prior to free agency also likely explains why they have yet to make a decision on defensive end Chris Clemons. Seattle released Bryant and receiver Sidney Rice last week in salary-cap saving moves, and the expectation by many is that Clemons would be next. Releasing Clemons would save the Seahawks $7.5 million in cap space, and coming off of a torn ACL, Clemons saw his production dip in 2013, but while the Seahawks may have seen Clemons as expendable had they re-signed Bennett, there’s a decent chance Clemons could stick around if the Seahawks can’t keep Clemons or add another pass rusher at a lower price in free agency.