To little surprise, DE Michael Bennett, the Seahawks’ top free agent, will enter the NFL market starting Saturday rather than accept the team’s pre-market offer. He played on a one-year deal worth $5 million last season, when he led Seattle with 8.5 sacks.
Bennett said on SiriusXM radio that he’d had “positive” conversations with the Seahawks but wanted to find his value with others. Speculation is that he might get $9 million or more annually on a multi-year contract.
The Seahawks Friday brought back safety Jeron Johnson and center Lemuel Jeanpierre, both restricted free agents, with one-year contracts. Jeanpierre, 26, started three games in the past season and eight total in his 47 regular-season games for Seattle. Johnson, 25, has appeared in 31 games, mostly on special teams.
“Lem has performed well when called upon in starting opportunities and we are excited to have him be a part of our 2014 season,” GM John Schneider said in a team release. “Jeron brings physicality and toughness that plays a key role in our special teams unit.”
Both came into the NFL as undrafted free agents. By re-signing them now, the Seahawks don’t have to apply a first- or second-round tender to either player. Nor do the Seahawks have to tender them at the right-of-first-refusal level, which would allow other teams to make an offer sheet for either player.
Another restricted free agent, WR Doug Baldwin, was given a second-round tender Friday. If he were to sign it, he would receive $2.19 million. If another team signed him, Seattle would receive a second-round draft pick. But team and player indicated they were pursuing a longer-term deal.
Teams officially can talk to free agents starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, but cannot sign deals until 1 p.m. Tuesday. After releasing two expensive veterans, WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant, the Seahawks are about $18 million under the NFL’s $133 million salary cap, which received a $10 million bump last week due to increased league revenues.
The Seahawks have 16 free agents, including CB Brandon Browner, who had his year-long suspension for use of marijuana rescinded this week, but will serve a four-game suspension in 2014 before he can return.