Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Thursday he met with defensive lineman Michael Bennett at the Pro Bowl but won't say if a new deal will get done. And for now, he said the priority is on adding to the team and keeping free agents, not redoing current deals of players such as Bennett or Kam...
Much like the NFL’s regular season, the offseason has a specific schedule of events.
And for now, that means teams are scouting potential draft picks and planning for free agency.
But at some point, the Seahawks will have to decide what to do with two high-profile veterans who are unhappy with their contracts — defensive lineman Michael Bennett and safety Kam Chancellor.
Bennett’s situation has taken on a different tenor with the news this week that he has changed agents. Bennett parted with Drew Rosenhaus and will be represented by Doug Hendrickson, the agent for running back Marshawn Lynch who helped Lynch get some alterations to his contract in 2014 and a new deal last March.
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Speaking at the NFL combine on Thursday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he met with Bennett at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu a few weeks ago.
“Yeah we have visited,’’ Carroll said. “Visited over there at the Pro Bowl, you know. Had a nice little stay there. … 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.”
If that sounds a little vague, that’s par for the course and by design. Carroll added that the time for restructuring or extending current contracts isn’t now.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,’’ Carroll 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.”
But Carroll also stated an increasingly challenging NFL truth.
“We’d love to reward everybody,’’ he said. “Can’t always do that.’’
Many observers believe if the Seahawks were to reward one of those two it would be Bennett. After debating whether to hold out last year, he reported on time and turned in a season that landed him in the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Chancellor, meanwhile, held out through training camp and the first two games of the season before returning with no changes to his contract. Chancellor said then that he hoped something would be done after the season.
But if Carroll has held a similar meeting with Chancellor as he had with Bennett, he didn’t say.
Carroll, though, praised the way Bennett handled the season, comments that would seem to lend credence to the thought that the Seahawks might be more willing to work out something with Bennett than Chancellor. Both players have two years remaining on their contracts.
“Well, Mike did all the things he’s supposed to do, you know,’’ Carroll said. “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.’’
Bennett’s decision to switch agents is viewed a likely effort to increase his chance to get a new contract. Hendrickson has a long history with the Seahawks, having also represented Marcus Trufant and other players.
Bennett signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract in March 2014, just a few days before he could have become an unrestricted free agent. According to OvertheCap.com he is the NFL’s 12th-highest-paid 4-3 defensive end.
Chancellor signed an extension in 2013 that runs through the 2017 season and averages $7 million a year. He essentially remains tied with Miami’s Reshad Jones as the NFL’s highest-paid strong safety.
Despite the recent retirement of Lynch, which saved them $6.5 million against the salary cap in 2016, the Seahawks have some significant financial challenges. They have about $23 million in cap space for 2016, less than 19 other NFL teams nearing the free-agency period, which begins March 9.
The Seahawks have 17 unrestricted free agents, including left tackle Russell Okung, receiver Jermaine Kearse and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin.
Carroll was asked about each of those players Thursday during his first media availability since the end of the season. But Carroll said he wouldn’t talk about the futures of specific players.
“We are dealing with all these guys all at the same time,’’ Carroll said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
Combine at a glance
What happened: Quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends were measured and met the media, as did a flurry of coaches and team execs.
The big story: The success of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been cited by some as contributing what suddenly appears to be a greater emphasis on quarterbacks’ hand size. Anything under nine inches is considered a red flag. Wilson’s have been measured at 10¼ inches, which some have said has helped him thrive in Seattle weather. The hands of California’s Jared Goff, a potential top 10 pick, gained much attention when they measured at nine inches. Said Goff: “I’ve been told I have pretty big hands my whole life. I heard I have small hands yesterday apparently. Naw, I’ve never had a problem with that or expect it to be a problem at all.’’
What’s next: Offensive linemen, specialists and running backs will conduct workouts Friday, the first of the combine. Among the position groups meeting the media are linebackers, a group that includes former Huskies Cory Littleton and Travis Feeney and Bellevue High grad Myles Jack of UCLA.