Even before the 2016 offseason, it was clear that Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett had a grossly below-market deal. Now, with guys like Olivier Vernon, Fletcher Cox, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Von Miller signing huge new contracts, it’s even more obvious.
“I just want to be fairly compensated with the top guys in the league,” Bennett told Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post. “I’m definitely one of the top five defensive ends.”
Currently, according to Schultz, Bennett occupies spot No. 27 in defensive lineman compensation. He enters the third season of a four-year, $28.5 million contract with a base salary of $4 million and a roster bonus of $1 million.
On one hand, Bennett willingly signed the deal at a time when he could have left the Seahawks and gone anywhere he wanted, following a Super Bowl-winning performance in his first year back with Seattle after four in Tampa. (He was a Seahawks in 2009, before joining Tampa Bay.) He chose to sign the contract, and the Seahawks have every right to insist that he fulfill it.
Still, Bennett was a part-time player in his first year with the team. After signing the new contract, the Seahawks began to use him more regularly than they had.
Last year, Bennett stayed away from the offseason program but didn’t boycott training camp. (He said his wife wouldn’t let him.) This year, the increase in daily fines for players under contract who skip camp from $30,000 to $40,000 per day suggests that, once again, he’ll show up. His words suggest that, at a minimum, it makes sense to pay attention to whether he does.
“It is never-ending,” Bennett said. “Especially when people are getting new contracts every day. You sit there and you’re like, ‘Damn, really?’ I’m just to the point where it’s kind of like, if you don’t think I’m valuable, then just get rid of me.”
Bennett is now represented by Doug Hendrickson, who held running back Marshawn Lynch out of camp two years ago and eventually got an improved deal. It wouldn’t be a shock, then, if Hendrickson dusts off that same playbook.