Seahawks Re-Sign Michael Bennett
After signing a one-year, $4.8 million “prove it” deal with Seattle in 2013, Michael Bennett cashed in big by re-signing with Seattle for $28.5 million over four years, with $16 million in guaranteed money. It was reported the Bears were making a strong push for Bennett’s services, but the Seahawks moved quickly to lock up an integral part of their Super Bowl-winning defense.
For Seattle, keeping Bennett was a top priority heading into free agency. They had already cut defensive end Red Bryant to make room for Bennett’s deal and could still cut fellow end Chris Clemons. The moves do ensure Bennett, 28, will stick around, but have left a void on the defensive line that still needs to be replenished. It’s also the first domino to fall in the massive task coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have in keeping their young core together – a task that won’t begin in earnest until next year.
Bennett burst onto the scene in 2012 – his first as a full-time defensive end – when he racked up nine sacks with Tampa Bay. He was Pro Football Focus’ seventh-rated 4-3 end, but didn’t find the market he was looking for and settled for his one-year deal with Seattle. In fact, only five defensive ends signed deals for more than two years in 2013. Bennett bet on himself in Seattle and joins those defensive ends with his own long-term deal.
He earned that deal after posting 8.5 sacks in 2013 while being used as a rotational pass rusher, finishing fifth in Pro Football Focus’ 4-3 end rankings. Playing 23 percent less snaps (985 in 2012 compared to 759 in 2013), he virtually matched his sack total, an impressive feat that also keeps more tread on those tires. By comparison, fellow top free agent end Michael Johnson has played 1,899 snaps the last two years compared to just 1,744 for Bennett, yet Bennett recorded 2.5 more sacks.
Bennett’s versatility is what makes him most valuable. For two years running, he’s been a top-10 4-3 linemen against both the run and pass while playing in two different systems and at two different positions. Bennett is a young 28, having played in only 66 games since entering the league in 2009.
As for fantasy purposes, Bennett is more likely to finish closer to his 2012 ranking of 21st among 4-3 ends, which is good for a DL2/3 in IDP leagues. With the previously mentioned Bryant moving on, expect Bennett to play more end, which should increase his chances at racking up sacks. Ironically, he could have a bigger fantasy impact on a different team if he were to play end full-time, but would certainly not be surrounding by the same level of talent.
Michael Moore is a contributor to the IDP and Dynasty sections of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Check out his dynasty-centric website at www.DynastyFantasyFootballCentral.com or follow him on Twitter @Dynasty_FFC.