Michael Bennett noticed on Twitter reports that the Seahawks may want to trade him to "quiet'' things down in the locker room.
That comment could easily be taken as a reference to Bennett’s increasing social activism.
Bennett, certainly, appeared to take it that way, retweeting a quote tweet of a story referencing that report that stated “How does the NFL keep rejecting this movement? More voices will come. Keep shouting (Michael Bennett, Colin Kaepernick). Hope 12th man pushes back.”
Rapoport, though, later clarified with a tweet Wednesday stating: “My comment had literally nothing to do with activism or Michael Bennett’s impressive social platform. The #Seahawks have always supported that.”
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So maybe that settles that.
Still, how the initial comment was perceived may linger in some minds — certainly Bennett seems to be wondering.
Bennett has always been one of the most outspoken players on the team since arriving in 2013 and one of the most influential voices in the locker room. And while he’s always spoken up about social issues he raised his profile last season by sitting for the national anthem, with most of the other defensive linemen usually joining in.
“One of their core defensive players over the last several years,” Rapoport said on the Up to the Minute show Tuesday. “Production has been really no question here, but this is a team that’s trying to maybe quiet things down a little bit compared to over the last couple years.”
And regardless of the various interpretations here, all of this seems to further indicate the end of Bennett’s Seattle time is near, with the only question being if it’s via a trade —- the Atlanta Falcons are known to be interested in Bennett — or a release.
Something has to happen by March 18 when Bennett has a reported $3 million roster bonus due.
Not that it’s a new idea that Bennett could be on his way out.
Bennett, fittingly, spoke at length about the possible end of his Seattle career following the final regular season game against Arizona on Dec. 31.
“I’ll be fine,” Bennett said then. “Whatever happens, I’ve loved being a Seahawk. I’ve had a great career with the Seahawks. You just keep growing and keep playing the best you can. You love the organization and you love the players that you played with. I’ve won a lot of games. So if I’m not here, I would never have any hard feelings toward the organization. I love Pete Carroll and John Schneider and you just move forward. This is a part of football. This is a part of the sport. You move forward and play for another organization if you get the opportunity.”
The personality of Seattle’s locker room already figures to change greatly in 2018 with it unlikely that Cliff Avril is back, and Kam Chancellor also potentially having played his last game, if likely staying on the roster on the PUP list/Injured Reserve for contractual reasons.
Changing the nature of the defensive leadership was also thought a reason behind the switch in defensive coordinators from Kris Richard to Ken Norton Jr.
There are also some valid financial reasons for unloading Bennett, even if the contract he signed late in 2016 means that if the Seahawks deal him now they will have essentially paid him an extra $8.5 million they didn’t have to if they had just let his old contract lapse.
Seattle can clear out roughly $14 million against the salary cap for the 2019-2020 seasons, money it could use to extend Earl Thomas and others.