Barring a break from philosophy, the Seahawks will be able to do only so much for Pro Bowl defender Michael Bennett this offseason.
But it might be enough, if Bennett’s recent business move is any indication.
Neither John Schneider nor Pete Carroll has ruled out adjusting Bennett’s salary, which calls for $4 million plus $1 million in per-game bonuses, but both have cautioned against expecting too much.
Last month, Schneider told 710 ESPN, “It’s all on an individual basis. We’re going to do whatever we can to keep this puzzle together, but we can’t get out of whack either.”
On Thursday at the Combine, Carroll praised Bennett for his energy, leadership and consistency last season and said, “We’d like to reward everybody. Can’t always do that.”
Bennett surely is hoping to be an exception to the rule. Toward that end, he has switched agents.
He has replaced the often adversarial Drew Rosenhaus with Doug Hendrickson, who navigated through a similar scenario with Marshawn Lynch in 2014-15.
Bennett clearly saw how Hendrickson handled Lynch’s situation — getting the Seahawks to move around some money to improve an undervalued contract in 2014 and then negotiating a higher-valued extension a few months later.
Bennett obviously would love to be paid market value, which is $10 million a year for him. But there’s probably no way that will happen this year — considering the Seahawks have 24 free agents and Bennett has two years remaining on his deal.
The best Bennett probably can hope for is the concession Hendrickson got for Lynch: bonuses converted to guaranteed salary and a promise to talk extension next offseason. In that case, the team could move up $1.5 million in 2017 bonuses and pay Bennett $6.5 million this year.
It’s possible the Seahawks will do a bit better than that, but they are fairly limited in their ability to maneuver under the salary cap.
They have to like the fact that Bennett has moved to Hendrickson, who knows their situation and has gone down this road before.
It should make it easier to navigate this contract conundrum so Bennett will continue to bring the energy, leadership and “flair” Carroll appreciates so much.
“I respect the heck out of him,” Carroll said. “He did a great job (last) season, and we’re looking forward to another big year.”