Signing Bennett ‘a top priority,’ Seahawks GM says

  • By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
  • Thursday, February 20, 2014 11:12pm
  • Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Thursday that re-signing unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Michael Bennett is a priority.

Schneider doesn’t anticipate using the franchise tag on Bennett — or anyone, for that matter — so the Seahawks will have to fight the open market for Bennett’s services.

“He’s a top priority sure,” Schneider said. “He had a great season. Proved to be versatile. … Hopefully we can get something worked out.”

Last week on the NFL Network, Bennett was asked about giving the Seahawks a “hometown” discount of sorts since they first signed him, then he blossomed there last season.

“There is no such thing as discount,” Bennett responded. “This is not Costco, this is not Walmart — this is real life … There is no discount really because you go out there and you don’t give a discount on effort; you go out there and you give the best effort every day and you fight for your teammates, and you want to be compensated for the way that you perform and the kind of teammate you are.”

Bennett, 28, led the Seahawks with 8.5 sacks, was a force in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl. He’s also a gregarious guy who fit well in the loose and young Seahawks locker room.

Like most teams, the Seahawks will have to tango with what’s expected to be a raised salary cap to have a shot at retaining crucial players. Looming are the contracts of Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, who are both entering the final years of their deals. They can become unrestricted free agents after the 2014 season.

“Every day we have different models set up,” Schneider said. “We’re going to try to do whatever we can possible to try to keep this core together. We have days ahead that are going to be hard because they are going to be tough decisions.”

Locker trying to come back

The Tennessee Titans are hopeful that quarterback Jake Locker will be ready for organized team activities, which start May 29.

Locker missed the final seven games of last season because of a foot injury in Week 10 against Jacksonville. He missed two games earlier in the season because of a sprained right hip and knee. Locker has played just 18 of 32 games during the 2012-13 seasons.

“From what I’ve seen, Jake exhibits a lot of qualities you can get excited about,” new coach in Ken Whisenhunt said. “One of the strengths that we’ve done is trying to tailor what we do to the strengths of the player. With Jake and seeing some of the things he can do, we don’t know what direction it is going to go. From what I’ve seen, those qualities that he’s exhibited, the arrow is definitely going up.”

Everyone from Titans’ CEO Tommy Smith — who strongly backed Locker to The Tennessean — to general manager Ruston Webster has endorsed Locker, who is in the final year of his contract after being selected eighth overall out of the University of Washington in 2011.

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