Saying “every team here wants defensive ends who jump off the ball and D-linemen with quick hands,” Seahawks GM John Schneider indicated Thursday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis that he knew the Seahawks had one in Michael Bennett and don’t want to lose him.
Bennett, a free agent who played end and tackle, was the most productive among the fleet of D-linemen that was a crucial part of the NFL’s best defense, leading to some speculation that the Seahawks will use the franchise tag before the March 3 deadline for the designation to assure Bennett’s return for the 2014 season.
“I don’t anticipate that, no,” Schneider told reporters at the annual event that began Thursday. “It’s a huge goal of ours to keep this team together as long as possible. There’s some tough decisions to be made. It’s about being a consistent championship team, not one that cruises in and cruises out.”
That suggests that the franchise tag’s one-year limit isn’t a viable strategy for Bennett, 28, a fifth-year veteran who had a team-high 8.5 sacks. A year ago, Bennett left Tampa to join Seattle on a one-year free agent deal for $5 million, which worked well in Seattle’s favor.
Media speculation has suggested that Bennett could be coveted by some teams for as much as $10 million a year for three or four years. In an interview earlier in the week on NFL Network, Bennett indicated he wasn’t in a mood to take less than market value, a hometown discount, to stay in Seattle.
“There is no such thing as discount,” he said. ” This is not Costco, this is not Walmart — this is real life. There is no discount, really, because you go out there and you don’t give a discount on effort; you go out there and you give the best effort every day.
“You fight for your teammates, and you want to be compensated for the way that you perform and the kind of teammate you are.”
Schneider said he wants back another free agent, WR Golden Tate.
“Golden knows where we stand,” Schneider said. “He knows how much we love him.”
Signing Bennett and Tate to bigger, multi-year contracts will have repercussions elsewhere under the team’s salary cap, which could force the ouster of highly paid vets such as WR Sidney Rice, TE Zach Miller and DE Chris Clemons.