Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett avoided fines and showed up for Seattle's mandatory minicamp in mid-June, but is still hinting at a potential holdout prior to this season. Bennett, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract last summer, is unhappy with his deal after outperforming it in year one, and is hoping to put a little pressure on the Seahawks to make some changes.
"I don't mind staying home for a little while," Bennett told KHON2-TV in reference to his plans for training camp. "Hawaii's weather is great, so I'll just keep it at that."
"I think I've outplayed the contract that they gave me," he said. "It's one of those things where you have to let your agent do the talking with the team and hopefully something good comes out of it. It never hurts to try.''
Bennett's not wrong in believing he's worth more than he's making. He finished the 2014 season with an underwhelming 7.0 sacks, but that stat alone doesn't tell the whole story. Per Pro Football Focus' tracking, his 53 quarterback hurries sat behind only J.J. Watt and Justin Houston (54), and for more perspective, Bennett's total quarterback pressures (72) -- which is combined sacks, hurries and hits -- was best among 4-3 defensive ends and behind only Watt (119) and Houston (85) in the entire league.
That's why he's looking "to get the contract right,'' as he told The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta earlier this spring. Bennett told Condotta that he's looking at it from a league-wide ranking perspective, noting that he wants to be paid "Somewhere near the top seven at my position, top eight at my position. Not a lot of guys play inside and out (meaning both tackle and end). Not a lot of guys do what I do. So I feel like I should be somewhere near there. I just want to be in the realm of the guys that play like me. There are only so many guys that do what I do, and I would love to be like somewhere in there where they are at.''
Per OvertheCap.com, that'd be in the neighborhood of $10M-plus per year.
"It never hurts to try" is the key sentence from Bennett this time around, though, because it's extremely unlikely the Seahawks will bend to Bennett's demands only one year after they signed him to a long-term extension. John Schneider and the Seahawks ran into this issue with Marshawn Lynch last offseason when Beastmode threatened holdout or retirement without some sort of renegotiation of his contract. Seattle gave him a small concession in the form of bonus money, but refused to restructure his deal outright. A year later -- in the final year of Marshawn's old deal -- they gave Lynch an extension.
"That was just all about precedent," Schneider said this year, of the Seahawks decision to remain steadfast. "It wasn't at all about whether we thought [Marshawn] was the No. 1 back or the No. 4 back or the No. 7 back when you're negotiating contracts. It didn't have anything to do with that; it just had to do with precedent. If we re-did a contract for Marshawn, everybody would be standing outside my office looking for a new contract whenever they wanted in their deals."
That's a pretty interesting and apt quote from Schneider, which came prior to this Bennett holdout-threat, and Schneider even mentions positional rankings in reference to Lynch, a tool that agents evidently use frequently in negotiations. Bennett, of course, now wants to be paid "somewhere near the top seven at my position, top eight at my position" but the Seahawks will almost surely, once again, avoid setting that precedent.
Bennett's hints at holding out have also led to some reports out there that he wants to be traded this offseason. However, he denied that strongly in early May.
"I think everyone who has a job, they want a raise for whatever they're doing," Bennett told King-5's Margaret Larson on New Day NW. "I'm just like any other American. I think everybody wants to be paid a little bit more so I don't think I fall short of that. People assume when you ask for a little more money, they assume that you want to be traded or something like that. But that's not what I'm trying to go for.
When asked directly by the New Day NW host if he wants to get traded, Bennett replied, "no."
So, we'll have to wait and see how determined Bennett is to hold out. If he does miss training camp, it will cost him $30,000 per day, and with the Seahawks position already clearly defined, a holdout may not help much. Right now, if I had to make a guess, I would say he'll show up on Day 1, but we've got about a month before we find out if I'm right.