Defensive lineman Michael Bennett has made it clear that he wants a new contract, but he decided not to hold out and, instead, “be the leader that I’ve always been.”
RENTON — Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett has never been shy about discussing his unhappiness with his contract.
Bennett contemplated holding out from training camp “until the last minute” and said he is “still upset” with his contract. But he practiced Friday, the first day of training camp. He said he can’t dwell on his contract situation. Bennett could have been fined up to $30,000 for each day he missed training camp at the team’s discretion.
“I’ve got to be professional and come out here and be the leader that I’ve always been and help this team get back to where it’s supposed to be,” Bennett said.
Bennett is entering the second season of a four-year contract worth up to $28.5 million, $16 million of which is guaranteed. He signed the contract in March 2014 after mulling offers from other teams. At the time, he said he turned down more money to stay with the Seahawks.
According to OvertheCap.com, a website that tracks contracts across the league, that ties Bennett for 14th in the NFL in average annual salary among defensive ends in a 4-3 defense. Bennett said in May that he would like to be paid among the top seven or eight at his position.
Bennett’s case: “I play five positions,” he said, noting how he moves all along the defensive line. “I play every one of them at a high level. There’s not a guy who plays like I do and is relentless every play. I put it on the line, regardless of injuries, regardless of how I feel. Not a game goes by that I don’t make an impact in the game.
“I made plays from every position, and I think there are only a couple guys in the NFL who can do it,” he continued. “I can name them on one hand.”
Bennett said wide receiver Doug Baldwin helped persuade him to show up for training camp and said he talked with coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Bennett said the team hasn’t told him they would do anything with his contract.
“It’s not up for discussion,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we just keep talking.”
Later, he said, “The best-case scenario is I play this season out and see what happens after that.”
Bennett has been highly valuable. He plays defensive end on running downs and slides inside to play defensive tackle in passing situations. His flexibility creates and exploits mismatches along the line. He has one of the quicker first steps on the team — “I tell him that I can use you as my snap count,” former teammate O’Brien Schofield once said — and he is relentless, if sometimes chaotic.
The Seahawks embraced his freelancing nature as a pass rusher and penetrator, because more often than not the good outweighed the mistakes.
Bennett said none of that would change this season.
“I came in this league undrafted, and everything I ever wanted in the NFL, I worked hard for it,” he said. “My work ethic is my work ethic, and that’s the way it’s always going to be.”
But Bennett also said, “For the rest of my life, I’ll always ask for more money. I’ll ask for more love from my wife. I’ll ask for more love from my kids. It’s just one those things where I’m always asking for more.”
Thomas, 3 others on PUP list
Safety Earl Thomas was among four Seahawks who began camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. The others were cornerbacks Tharold Simon and Jeremy Lane and receiver Paul Richardson.
Thomas is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and it remains unclear when he will return (players can come off the PUP list at any time).
“We’re going to be really patient,’’ Carroll said. “ … He’s making great progress, the timeline, let’s wait and see how long it takes for it to be really safe and secure for him to come out.’’
Simon (shoulder) should be back soon, Carroll said, but Lane and Richardson, both recovering from knee injuries, have no timeline.