Michael Bennett on Contract Demands: “Somewhere Near the Top Seven at my Position”

By Vincent Frank

Disgruntled Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett spoke out in depth regarding his contract situation during a charity dinner Friday night in Bellevue, Washington.

From giving a specific explanation of what he’s demanding to acknowledging that there is a contract stalemate, Bennett opened up big time:

“Trying to get the contract right,’’ Bennett explained after being asked why he sat out OTAs this week, via the Seattle Times. “I’ll be there shortly. I don’t know when I’ll be there. Depends on the team and stuff. See how it works out.”

That’s a statement that really doesn’t need any clarification. Bennett stayed away from organized team activities due to his contract. He made that much clear.

Further explaining what he’s looking for from the Seahawks, Bennett got pretty specific:

“Somewhere near the top seven at my position, top eight at my position,’’ the veteran defensive end said. “Not a lot of guys play inside and out (meaning both tackle and end). Not a lot of guys do what I do. So I feel like I should be somewhere near there.”

Bennett, 29, is entering the second year of a four-year, $28.5 million contract he signed with Seattle just last March. He’s set to earn a base salary of $6 million. That doesn’t take into account the $8 million signing bonus the defensive end received when he inked his current deal.

Based on Bennett’s expectations, he’s looking for a pretty hefty raise. For someone that is still three years removed from becoming a free agent, there isn’t much leverage to be had here.

Bennett recorded 7.5 sacks in 16 games (all starts) last season. He graded out as the second-best 4-3 defensive end in the NFL (via Pro Football Focus, subscription required). In addition to this, Bennett played about 85 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps last season.

It goes without saying that Bennett is an integral part of what the Seahawks do on defense. However, he’s nowhere near the team’s top priority right now. Both Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are set to become free agents next March. Each is slated to become one of the highest-paid players at his position when new deals are struck. Putting those situations on the back burner to cater to a player with three years remaining on his deal is not logical.

Photo: USA Today Sports