BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 05/18/2016

Thiel: Bennett seeks to get his before he ‘gets got’

Michael Bennett still isn’t happy with his contract, but he said Tuesday he’s going to show up for training camp. He’ll be 31 this fall, wondering why his lessers are making so much more.

Michael Bennett wants more money. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

I know I’m gonna get got, but I’m going to get mine more than I get got.” Marshawn Lynch, December 2014

For a guy alleged to be shy about public speaking — unless you happen to be Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Kenny Mayne, Deion Sanders or Beacon Plumbing — RB Marshawn Lynch leaves a trail covered thickly with casual wit and wisdom suitable for every occasion, persuasion and political dissertation.

The quote above, given to former teammate Michael Robinson during an NFL Network interview, was a response to a question about defining what Beast Mode was. Lynch was referring to what we have come to see as him ripping through tacklers in the manner of a thresher through wheat stalks.

But on another level, he explained the philosophical foundation of American capitalism better than John Kenneth Galbraith ever dreamed.

I once called Russell Wilson the The Human Hallmark Card. Lynch is the Oracle at Occidental.

His quote is worthy of a revisit today, not because it was the best thing he ever said, which it is, but because it applies to what DE Michael Bennett is attempting to do — get his before he gets got, a task fundamental to just about every labor activity upon the fruited plain.

In an interview Tuesday morning on ESPN 710 radio, Bennett, whose dismay over his contract has been on simmer for more than a year, was asked if he was considering holding out of training camp until his contract was improved.

“Why wouldn’t I be at training camp?” Bennett said. “Of course, I’ll be there. I’ll see you there for sure.”

That should be a relief to Seahawks fans who were preparing for another episode of Chancellor the Canceller, wherein a Seahawks star nearly zeroes himself out with a hopeless pursuit of a raise.

Bennett distanced himself from a similar error, then and now. Last season, he showed for the mandatory phase after his wife, he said, told him to get his butt in camp.

Tuesday, Bennett said he loved his situation in Seattle.

“Of course I want to be in Seattle as long as possible,” he said. “Everything about Seattle: I love the city, I love the team, I love my teammates, love what was going on, love how we do things. I just love it here.”

All of which doesn’t guarantee he’ll show up for the pending OTA sessions later this month.

Bennett is trying to play both sides — saying nice things about everything and everyone, while slyly conveying he’s still pissed.

“As a good American, I’m going to go ahead and use, what’s that, the Fifth Amendment,” he said. “No matter what I say, it’s going to come back and haunt me. Any American wants to get paid more at their job. I don’t think there’s anybody who goes to work who says, ‘I’m happy with how much I’m getting paid, and I love it. Don’t give me any more money.’ That’s how I feel, too.”

Since no crime is being investigated, Bennett is not going to need protection from self-incrimination. He’s searching for leverage, even trying sports-talk radio. But there isn’t any leverage.

Team policy — not an NFL rule — is that no contract will be improved prior to its final year, even if the player out-performs it. Just as the team can’t cut pay if a player under-performs his deal.

Bennett enters the third year of a four-year deal worth $28.5 million, $16 million guaranteed. In 2016, he has a salary of $5 million — a $4 million base with a $1 million roster bonus.

Teammate WR Doug Baldwin is entering the final year of a three-year extension, and he and the Seahawks anticipate negotiations for another extension as soon as this month. That is the custom.

Doesn’t mean Bennett isn’t grimacing at the marketplace.

According to spotrac.com, Bennett and teammate Cliff Avril are tied for 20th in average annual salary among defensive ends, at $7.125 million. Tops is Malik Jackson, who went to Jacksonville in free agency for $17.1 million, $100,000 ahead of another free agent signee, Olivier Vernon of the Giants. J.J. Watt of Houston is third at $16.7 million.

It’s not hard to see why Bennett feels left at the station. He is among the most disruptive defenders in the league, making his first Pro Bowl after 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. But he’ll also be 31 in November. The chances of him hitting a huge, multi-year payday after his contract ends are fairly small.

In Lynch’s Oakland patois, Bennett, as with everyone, is gonna get got by age or health or both. Which he why he wants to be paid market value in his prime — now.

Bennett was a late bloomer, an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. He had cups of coffee with the Seahawks, Saints and Chiefs before sticking with the Bucs in Tampa. But his first 10 starts were in his age-26 season, and his first season starting 16 games was the following year in 2012.

He came to Seattle on a one-year, $5 million deal in 2013, and played behind Chris Clemons in the run to the Super Bowl. Then he signed, happily, a four-year deal that seemed spectacular.

Even though his out-sized personality has made him seem like he’s been around Seattle since the Space Needle was a stub, he’s been a full time starter for only the past two seasons.

Bennett could be an outlier, on the order of DE Reggie White. In the middle of what was a run of 13 Pro Bowls, White left Philadelphia for a free agent deal in Green Bay in his age-32 season that rocked the NFL in 1993. He helped get the Packers into two Super Bowls and played until he was 39.

But Bennett can’t know that. What he does know is players lesser than him are making much greater sums.

He’s on a track to not get nearly as much before he inevitably gets got.

I get it.

Wisely, he appears to be choosing to get on with it as well.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    It’s hard for me to jump onto the “Bennett is underpaid” bandwagon when he’s already made more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime and in a job where he works about 7 months a year. That being said it’s obvious that the Seahawks are getting an incredible deal right now with him and when all is said and done he’s up there with Jacob Green, Joe Nash and Michael Sinclair among the DE/DL’s in Seahawks history. As long as he keeps playing at the level he’s at right now the Seahawks will take care of him. Based on his statements during Ricardo Lockette’s press conference when Bennett’s NFL career is over the Seahawks will still be there for him.

    • art thiel

      You left off Tez.

      Anytime you measure your salary against that of a pro athlete, you’ll have the same response. Everything is relative.

      Don’t forget that the career average for pro football players is less than four years. Most of them will have to make nearly everything they will earn in a lifetime, because they’ve sacrificed the chance to be educated and trained early in another profession.

      Then there’s the physical/neurological damage that limits daily living. I have little problem with pro athletes pressing the case for more compensation, given the potential bleakness of their futures.

      • jafabian

        I left Tez off on purpose. No defensive player can compare themselves to him until they’re awarded Defensive Player of the Year.

        • John M

          What was even more impressive with Tez is that he was awarded DPY while playing for a team with one of the worst records in the NFL.. . .

          • art thiel

            Not sure that”s been duplicated.

        • art thiel

          They don’t make the claim in negotiations, but it’s the elephant in the room. And right now, there won’t be any negotiating with Bennett.

      • wabubba67

        …and Jeff Bryant.

        • jafabian

          I love Boogie but IIRC he was never named to the Pro Bowl. To me he’s a half notch down along with Manu and Robert “Heartburn” Hardy.

      • John M

        First I’ll say your piece was insightful and entertaining, as usual, and we all like Mike, but I remember when he was signed as a free agent. The team wanted to keep him, but he got caught in the numbers or someone’s decision on a drafted player that did not show the potential, etc. Mike’s in a system that suits his abilities, he’s surrounded by friends and his deal here is safe, unless he takes it too far. The Cap is the final arbitrator, and Mike knows they’ve already signed his predecessors. But right now nobody does what he does as well in Seattle, and he’s going to ride that horse as far as he can. Can’t blame him . . .

        • art thiel

          His fear is that the Seahawks almost never have given a player over 30 anything but a one-year deal. Bennett might be the exception.

  • Tian Biao

    I read and enjoyed the article (glad Bennett is not planning to hold out) but I kept coming back to that classic Lynch quote. it would be great fun to read a ‘top 20′ list of sayings or quotes or something from Lynch.

    • art thiel

      That one has been my favorite, Might have to do a list.

  • coug73

    In our capitalist system Mr. Bennett’s desire to make more money is justified. When you are highly productive, the Man, should reward your productivity. Bennett’s window of opprotunity is closing. He has earned a raise.

    • art thiel

      But the constraints of the salary cap, an agreement collectively bargained with Bennett’s union, curb the free-market labor forces. The Seahawks impose their policy because they are required to fit all salaries under the same limit as the other team.

      Bennett is stuck, by agreement.

      • coug73

        Yeah, hard to feel bad over collective bargaining, most citizens don’t have a voice in labor relations. On the plus side Mr. Bennett he’s a millionaire.

        • art thiel

          No need for anyone to pity him, but I get his urgency.

  • Matt712

    “Then he signed, happily, a four-year deal that seemed spectacular.”

    Any player who is unhappy with his current contract should simply refer to the above statement. Contract negotiation is all based on calculated risk for both parties. It may seem lesser so for the organization given that it can cut a player if he doesn’t perform, but remember that part of that negotiation is for guaranteed money with further risk to the team being that it would simply not be as good if the player doesn’t perform.

    Bennett and his agent (as with any player) were free to sign a one year deal with incentives, and then another one, and so on, which would’ve kept them at current market rates. But they didn’t. They took the security of $16m guaranteed and 4 years. It’s definitive, therefore, that neither Bennett nor the Seahawks (nor anyone else) could tell at the time how good he would become, or how the market for his position would change.

    And yet, the team, per policy, still opens the door to renegotiate in the final year of the contract. Seems like a decent compromise to me. A player who doesn’t think so shouldn’t blame his team nearly as much as himself, his agent, and his union rep. because it’s all there in the CBA – agreed upon by player representation.

    Don’t wanna get got? Start there. In the meantime, get your butt in camp. Bennett’s wife sounds like a smart lady.

    • art thiel

      You have laid out the logic well. It’s always risk/reward in these, or any, contracts securing human talent. The Seahawks look to make these deals all the time: Reward with some years of security a player on the ascent, knowing that if he reaches his apex during the deal, they have a steal, minus the grumbling. Same with Chancellor, only he did the inexplicable, holding out with little leverage.

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  • 1coolguy

    I didn’t know he will be 31 – no wonder he’s pressing for a new deal. I also didn’t know he only has 1 Pro Bowl under his belt.
    What I can say is I do hope he has a long, successful career in Seattle, long enough to sign an improved deal after he third contract year, one that will be justified.
    I suspect if he’s performs well this year, he has learned his lesson and will keep the term down to 1-2 years. Great to see he will be in camp.

    • art thiel

      By next year, at 31 and presuming good health, Bennett will probably ask for four years beyond the remaining year, the Seahawks will offer two, and we’ll see what happens. Bennett could get a load of guaranteed money in his first year, little thereafter.

  • Kenny Lynn

    UDFA keep paying year after year. It’s almost impossible to catch up unless you were really ahead all along. Poor draft analysis kills some of these guys. Somebody less deserving got the early money and it’s long gone.