Seahawk defensive lineman Michael Bennett says trying to win another Super Bowl is more important this off-season than thinking about holding out.
A year ago at this time, Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was contemplating a training camp holdout in search of a new contract.
Now, with his contract situation the same but after a season in which he added only more evidence to back up his contention that he has outplayed the four-year, $28.5 million deal he signed in March, 2014, Bennett says he isn’t thinking of holding out.
During an interview Saturday after conducting his annual Ocean Health Fest to promote healthy eating and lifestyles for families with young kids, Bennett reiterated that while he’d like a new deal, he’ll be at training camp (even if he is currently working out on his own while the team is going through the voluntary portion of its off-season program).
So what’s the difference?
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Bennett, who turns 31 in November, says this season is all about getting back to the Super Bowl, and winning it.
“Just trying to win another championship,’’ Bennett said when asked what’s different in his approach this off-season from last year. “I hated seeing Cam Newton in the Super Bowl because I know that if we had won that game (the divisional playoff against the Panthers) we are back in the championship and we do it all over again. That left a nasty taste in my mouth. So everything I am doing now is just to get better for the season.’’
Bennett also knows understands that the team has a policy of not giving extensions to players with more than a year remaining on their contract — Bennett’s runs through 2017 —- while trying to take care of those who have a year remaining.
That means Seattle is expected to re-up receiver Doug Baldwin — whose contract has one year left — at some point in the next few months, which would alternately mean waiting until after the season to give new deals to Bennett and/or safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor held out and missed the first two games last season but isn’t expected to hold out this year. Like Bennett, Chancellor has two years remaining on his contract.
“I don’t care who gets done first,’’ Bennett said. “I want Doug Baldwin to get rewarded. I want Kam Chancellor to get rewarded. They have put in the work. They have put in the time. They are worthy of their contracts.’’
That the Seahawks appear set to have a much quieter off-season this year as opposed to last season — when there also almost daily stories about Russell Wilson’s contract situation until he signed right before training camp — has led some to wonder if the players learned some lessons along the way.
Coach Pete Carroll seemed to hint at that in March when he said “our guys realized during last season that it took us a long time to get going again to where we really hit our stride and that we are the only guys that were in the way of that.’’
Bennett, though, said he thinks the disappointment of the Super Bowl loss was toughest hurdle for the team to overcome last year
“I don’t think it was so much the stuff that happened in the off-season,’’ he said. “I just think it was from the Super Bowl. I think a lot of guys kept that on for a while. That was the biggest thing. Even though Kam held out, things like that, I just think people were hungover by the Super Bowl. … I think that’s what people held on to last year.’’
Bennett says he’s preparing for the long haul of a long season. He was quoted in an ESPN story Saturday that he is “feeling really Defensive MVP-ish right now, the way I’ve been training.’’
Saturday, he didn’t back down from that statement, saying there’s no reason he can’t have that kind of a season.
Bennett said he is increasingly mixing in activities such as boxing and swimming into his off-season training regiment — he said he is swimming 20-30 laps up to three times a week — of workouts generally conducted by trainer Kevin Chang.
“I’m trying to be in way better condition to the point where I don’t ever get tired,’’ Bennett said.
As for winning the MVP, Bennett knows he’d have to rely on the votes of others, something he realizes is fraught with risk.
“It’s like when you pick the Pro Bowl,’’ Bennett said. “You can’t pick the Pro Bowl without picking Cliff Avril. You can’t have a top 100 (a reference to the NFL Network list) and you’ve got guys like (Pittsburgh’s) Cameron Heyward (who was N. 88) over Cliff Avril. It doesn’t make any sense.’’