The Seahawks’ chances of retaining defensive lineman Michael Bennett got a little slimmer Thursday.
Seattle had hoped it might be able to prevent Bennett from entering the free-agent market by locking him into a contract before the signing period begins Tuesday.
But a source confirmed to The Seattle Times other reports Thursday that Bennett will not sign with the Seahawks before entering the market and hearing what other teams have to offer.
Bennett led the Seahawks in sacks in 2013 with 8.5 after signing a one-year deal worth $5 million after playing the previous four seasons with Tampa Bay.
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He is one of Seattle’s 15 unrestricted free agents, andis regarded as one of the top defensive linemen available.
Seattle released receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant last week, clearing more than $12 million in salary cap money for the 2014 season. That seems to be an indication of the team’s seriousness about keeping Bennett and other free agents, including receiver Golden Tate.
Bennett, who is represented by Drew Rosenhaus, said earlier this week in an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio that he’d had conversations with the Seahawks and that they had been “positive.’’
But Bennett also has said he does not intend to take less to stay with the Seahawks, with some speculating that he is seeking a multiyear contract in the $9 million to $10 million range.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699
or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bcondotta