It sure looks like Michael Bennett is considering holding out, after all. Why else would his agent come to Seattle on the eve of training camp?
Bennett apparently wants at least $14 million a year, but will he settle for the Marshawn Lynch deferment plan — the deal his new agent, Doug Hendrickson, worked out in 2014?
Per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Hendrickson and the Seahawks will discuss the Pro Bowl defensive lineman’s “desires” for a new deal this week.
Bennett wants a two- or three-year extension that pays him among the top six or seven defensive linemen in the NFL, Anderson reported. That means at least $14 million per year — double what he is making now.
As Bennett made clear in a recent interview, he has grown frustrated with the “never-ending” string of fortunes handed to various linemen around the league. With every deal, his contract becomes more and more obsolete. He makes a valid point that he is underpaid, but is he willing to be patient?
This is the third straight year the Seahawks have dealt with a veteran contract issue on the eve of camp. In 2014, Lynch sat out briefly before Hendrickson and the Seahawks came to an agreement on a Band-Aid deal. They then negotiated an extension after the season.
As Kam Chancellor surprisingly held out last summer, the Seahawks reportedly worked toward a similar agreement with him — but then stopped talking just before the season started after he called the team “petty.”
The Seahawks seem likely to offer a similar advancement of funds to Bennett to placate him until next offseason, when they would be more comfortable negotiating an extension.
The Seahawks could guarantee his $1 million in per-game roster bonuses and bring forward $1.5 million in 2017 bonuses. That would bump his pay to $6.5 million, still less than half of what he wants. But it would be a good-faith move, just like they did for Lynch.
Then, next year, they could extend Bennett at a rate that rivals big deals signed by the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson ($17.2 million average), the Eagles’ Fletcher Cox ($17.1 million), the Giants’ Olivier Vernon ($17 million), the Texans’ J.J. Watt ($16.7 million), the Bills’ Marcell Dareus ($15.9 million), the Jaguars’ Malik Jackson ($14.3 million) and the Rams’ Robert Quinn ($14.3 million).
Of course, there also is the slim chance that John Schneider will break his own rule and redo Bennett’s contract with two years left. But, if he didn’t do it for Lynch or Chancellor, will he do it for Bennett?
And, if he doesn’t, will Bennett be OK with a Band-Aid deal? He said he almost held out alongside Chancellor last summer, but he reported and proceeded to have his best season.
Hendrickson’s arrival just days before the Hawks open camp indicates Bennett is again considering holding out — and might actually do it this time.
But it seems like a little good-faith money shuffling would appease the defensive star, who has talked all offseason about wanting to be a “championship teammate” and lead the way to another Super Bowl title.
We’ll know his decision when the team reports Friday.