The Super Bowl champions have a major decision to make this offseason: do they pay to retain their top pass-rusher or do they follow the script they’ve used in recent years, the one that led them to a Lombardi Trophy earlier this month?
Michael Bennett is the impending free agent that has been the center of discussion of late, as the Seattle Seahawks’ leading sacker (10.0 including playoffs) took a one-year, $4.8 million deal last offseason and now wants, and deserves, to be paid.
Asked whether he was willing to give the Seahawks a hometown discount to return to the team and make another Super Bowl run, Bennett said there was no such thing.
Free-agent Seahawks DE Michael Bennett says Seattle won’t get hometown discount. “This isn’t Costco. This isn’t Walmart. This is real life.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 12, 2014
It appears as if the Seahawks and every other team in need of a top-tier defensive lineman will have to pay for Bennett, who lined up at both end and tackle last season and proved to be one of the more versatile players along the team’s front seven.
Seattle has a lot of depth up front, but let’s not rule them out of the running for Bennett who was so valuable during both the regular season and in the postseason. And perhaps if the Seahawks’ offer is comparable to the other ones he receives on the free-agent market, he’ll return to the Pacific Northwest.
Another oft-mentioned landing spot for Bennett would be on the same squad as his brother, Martellus Bennett. The Chicago Bears have a glaring need at defensive line and are rumored to be looking at a number of defensive tackles with their first-round draft pick. Defensive end Corey Wootton is a free agent and the team could use Bennett both as an edge-rusher there and in the middle.
The Cincinnati Bengals would be an intriguing fit. The team will retain tackle Geno Atkins but will lose end Michael Johnson, and would certainly be upgrading with Bennett. Cincy tends not to dish out big contracts, but perhaps Marvin Lewis and the front office would view the addition of Bennett as taking that next step to get past the first round of the playoffs.
A team not afraid to make a big splash: the Dallas Cowboys. The team’s top pass-rusher, DeMarcus Ware, will be 32 at the start of the season and coming off an injury plagued year. Anthony Spencer is a free agent while the team relied on journeyman last season. Jerry Jones has never shied away from the spotlight, so signing the premier defensive player available remains a possibility.