NFL.com reported Sunday that things indeed may be progressing with Ian Rapoport Tweeting that the Seahawks and Michael Bennett's new agents at Relativity Sports met this week at the NFL combine.
When news broke last week that Seahawks’ defensive lineman Michael Bennett had hired Marshawn Lynch’s former agent, Doug Hendrickson, it became clear that the 2015 Pro Bowl Defensive MVP hoped to move things along more quickly in trying to work out a new contract with the team.
NFL.com reported Sunday that things indeed may be progressing with Ian Rapoport Tweeting that the team and Bennett’s new agents at Relativity Sports met this week at the NFL combine.
That’s no surprise as coach Pete Carroll said when he met the media on Thursday that he had had some talks with Bennett at the Pro Bowl and did not deny that the team might work on a new deal for him, but said that the draft and free agency would likely be more immediate priorities than redoing current contracts.
Bennett stated often last off-season and season that he was unhappy with his current contract, a four-year deal worth $28.5 million he signed in March, 2014. Bennett acknowledged he thought about holding out before deciding to report and then turning in a season in which he was as valuable as any player on the defense while earning his first Pro Bowl bid. Bennett recently fired famed agent Drew Rosenhaus and signed instead with Hendrickson and Relativity Sports, who along with Lynch also represented Marcus Trufant, among others.
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Indications are that Bennett hoped the change might spur an effort to renegotiate his contract — Hendrickson also worked out a new deal for Lynch in 2015 as well as alterations to his deal that ended a week-long holdout in 2014.
The Seahawks have typically taken a stance against redoing contracts that have more than a year remaining due in large part to the precedent it would set. It’s a not uncommon policy, with teams feeling they would be dealing with a steady stream of players wanting to redo their contracts if they make a habit of ripping up deals that have more than a year remaining.
But there has been a thought that the team would be amenable to redoing a contract with Bennett for at least two reasons: 1, as a reward for the fact that he reported and then set aside his unhappiness to play at an elite level (and in contrast to the holdout of safety Kam Chancellor); 2, an extension/new contract could be structured in a way that it would give the Seahawks some salary cap relief in 2016 and 2017 (Bennett’s deal has cap hits of $7 million and $9.5 million the next two seasons) which could be viewed as a win for each side.
Asked at the combine Thursday about Bennett switching agents and if he had talked with him, Carroll said: “Yeah, we have visited. Visited over there at the Pro Bowl, you know. And a nice little stay there. Turned out an MVP performance – not on offense, on defense. Michael’s doing good. Mike’s got business. I respect the heck out him. He did a great job this season, and we’re looking forward to another big year.”
And asked if he would want to report Bennett for playing despite being unhappy with his contract situation, Carroll said: “Well, Mike did all the things he’s supposed to do, you know. And he did it with a flair. I love that he brought leadership. He brought great energy – and really terrific consistency, too – to our season. We’d like to reward everybody. Can’t always do that.”
Carroll also said the timing of the off-season could mean that redoing contract deals would happen later rather than sooner.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “Really, the guys who are under contract can’t be the first-priority guys right now, in any order. We are really digging in, trying to keep our team together. And that will always be the way we go about it. We love Kam, and Mike – the question, you brought that up – we love those guys. And we are going to do all we can to make sure they can stay with us.”
Bennett turned 30 on Nov. 13 and led the Seahawks this year in sacks with 10.
He is the NFL’s 12th-highest paid defensive end in a 4-3 defense, according to OvertheCap.com.