Michael Bennett is making it tough on the Seahawks — tough to not give him the raise he wants.
His stellar performance against the Vikings last weekend was one of his best games in a season full of them — further evidence that the team needs to accommodate him financially after this season.
Yes, Bennett has two years remaining on his contract. But, if you recall, he grumbled all last offseason about the four-year, $28.5 million contract he signed in 2014. And he surely will again — especially after this awesome season.
Unlike Kam Chancellor, Bennett reported to training camp, provided leadership to the younger defensive linemen and turned in his best NFL season (earning his first Pro Bowl nod). Along with Richard Sherman, Bennett was the most consistently great player on the team.
Bennett obviously is going to approach the Seahawks again about adjusting his contract, which is set to pay him $5 million (including $1 million in per-game roster bonuses) next season and $7.5 million ($1.5 million in bonuses) in 2017. And he might decide to be a brat about it this time, as Chancellor was.
We’ve already said the Seahawks need to get rid of Chancellor, who hasn’t done anything to earn the raise he wants. And you can bet he is going to be a pain in the butt about his contract again.
The Seahawks basically need to choose which guy they are going to bend the rules for — and Bennett quite obviously should be the one.
They already bend the rules for Bennett on the field, letting him use his instincts to freelance.
“We really have gained an understanding (of) how we play him,” Pete Carroll said. “There (are) going to be times that he’s going to penetrate instead of play the block the way another guy would, because he knows where the ball’s going. Unfortunately, he’s not always right; but, for the most part, he is. We’ve gauged over time that it’s better to give him that sense to go for it, and then we’re always clamoring for him to stay within the scheme, too. There’s a way to do it where you take care of your responsibility and you don’t leave. … For the most part, he’s really good at it. It’s a really good example of us finding the guy that’s got unique qualities and trying to find a way to make that fit into our defense.”
Bennett uniquely fits Carroll’s defense, and that’s why the Seahawks should give him a raise.
Yeah, we know John Schneider has mostly stuck to his guns about not renegotiating contracts — with Marshawn Lynch being the one notable minor exception. In 2014, when he had two years left on his deal and held out of training camp, they moved some money around to appease him. Then they gave him an extension right after the season (he was paid $12 million for seven games).
If the Seahawks move on from Lynch and Chancellor, as they should, they will have money to give Bennett a bump while still dealing with other personnel issues (including re-signing Brandon Mebane and/or Ahtyba Rubin, the heart of the NFL’s top-ranked run defense). The Hawks could easily add a couple of years to Bennett’s deal and give him more money.
At this point, he has played too well for the Seahawks not to.