Seahawks' GM John Schneider talked to reporters briefly from the NFL Owners Meetings in Arizona on Monday, and had a few interesting things to say. Apart from giving an update on Russell Wilson's contract extension negotiations and confirming that Jesse Williams will be back in 2015, Schneider denied that Michael Bennett requested a trade and gave a cryptic response to the question of whether Brandon Mebane will be back this year.
Per Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Schneider responded "He's never asked to be traded" to two questions, 1) Did he request a trade, and 2) "So that means he's never asked to be traded, or to have his contract re-done?" The second straight "he's never asked to be traded" somewhat implies that Bennett asked for a new contract, a request that the Seahawks are certainly loath to entertain. While Bennett's performance would support the logic that he deserves a higher-paying contract, he's only one year into a four year deal, and the Seahawks made it a point to not entertain those requests until a player is in the final year of their contract (or at least into the third year of a four-year deal). The Marshawn Lynch holdout negotiations last year were all about avoiding setting that precedent.
Regardless, said Schneider, "It's my understanding that Michael is very happy in Seattle and loves playing there, so that's really about all I can say about it. I'm not exactly sure where all that came from.''
As for Mebane, Schneider's response to the question of whether Brandon Mebane would be back in 2015 was again somewhat implicit. "I hope so, I hope so," he replied. "We are going to continue to work through the off-season here. As of right now, yes.''
This, to me, is anything but a ringing endorsement and would point to the idea that Mebane may be asked to take a pay cut. Seattle's starting nose tackle counts $5.7M against the cap next year and taking into account the market for free agent nose tackles over the past few weeks, the Hawks may have a little leverage. Dan Williams, probably the premiere nose tackle on the market, got $6.25M APY from the Raiders, but after that, Stephen Paea got $5.25M APY, Terrance Knighton got $4.45M APY, Vince Wilfork got $4.5M APY, Henry Melton got $3.75M APY, and Alan Branch got $2.15M APY.
We shall see. With the Ahtyba Rubin signing, the Jesse Williams re-signing, the C.J. Wilson workout, and a handful of other defensive line visits by free agents, Seattle may be looking to put a little pressure on Mebane to restructure. Nothing may come of it and Mebane may play at his current number next year, but that quote seemed fairly tepid in terms of Schneider's confidence that he'd be back.