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The Drive: Finding the next Michael Bennett

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

When I write “Michael Bennett” I do not mean a big defensive end or a defensive end or even a defender, but only a player hidden by organizational incompetence. Figurative, many people struggle with figurative language and abstract reasoning. Before I assume those people Dunning-Kruger’d by their lonesome or in small groups: simplifying complex ideas into nonsense, conflating small-group consensus with fact, waging total war on compromise, and acting on incomplete information. Now I think that’s called Twitter.

Bennett himself was a Seahawk before Tim Ruskell’s need to retain a second kicker made him a free agent. Bennett became a Seahawk again after he clashed with de rigueur punchline of 2013 Greg Schiano. At all times he was balling. Today I look for guys who were balling but who are likely to be available because of things outside their control. Looking back at this paragraph now that I am nearly finished, I guess I mostly found guys who were not balling at all but who still retain potential. Management changes. Coaching changes. Schemes change. The casualties of that change are often good players who can be had for very little. Or so is the premise of this piece, true or not.

Markus Golden

Golden was a holy terror in 2016 totaling four forced fumbles, 12.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss and 22 quarterback hits. He tore his ACL four games into 2017 and didn’t do much last season, not playing until Week 3, playing in only 11 games and finishing with 2.5 sacks.

Reasons for optimism are obvious enough. He was good, he may not have been fully recovered from his injury last season (or just not in “game shape”), and he will be available in part because former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks was fired and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4. We also cannot discount the possibility that Wilks just isn’t very good. Like Gus Bradley, Wilks picked up the future head coach label not through success but something else. The good face? Presence? Damning photos of Roger Goodell prostrate at the feet of Garret Dillahunt? We will never know.

JJ Nelson

Nelson entered the league receiving for then-still-good Carson Palmer. Next season, that was downgraded to swiftly-declining Carson Palmer. Then: soon-to-be-retired Carson Palmer; Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton and last season, Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen.

That’s an ugly group, especially for a deep receiver, and Nelson is known for his speed and not a heckuva lot else. But that speed! He ran a Combine official 4.28 in 2015 which is tied for the fifth fastest since 2008. He should still have most of that speed, and it’s even possible he’s filled out a bit, as he was graphene thin in 2015, but appears to have bulked up to full Olive Oyl Paul Richardson in 2018.

14 there is your boy uhhh ... you know the rest.

Andrew Adams

Adams was an undrafted free agent in 2016 who signed with the New York Giants. Injuries forced him into starting 13 games as a rookie. That defense finished second in DVOA and led the NFL in DVOA versus no. 1 receivers. Adams lost his job to Darian Thompson in 2017, lost his spot entirely after the Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo, and signed with the ill-fated Bucs of 2018.

What sets Adams apart is his ball skills. Here are two of his three picks of Cam Newton in Week 14 of last season.

He’s also versatile:

““[Adams] played all over today,” [Lavonte] David said. “I believe he had an interception at free safety, he had an interception at playing dime. ... It’s a testament to how he prepares and how he studies.”

Adams isn’t fast enough to play free safety or big enough to play strong safety in Seattle’s asymmetrical alignment but he would make for a good ball-hawking complement to Bradley McDougald if the Seahawks move toward a more Tampa 2 style set of symmetrical safeties.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

ASJ was a second round pick in 2014. Then ...

Quarterbacks he has received from: Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, rookie Jameis Winston, second-year Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty and Blake Bortles.

He was cut by Tampa Bay in 2016 seemingly because of a DUI charge. ASJ’s also battled quite a few relatively minor injuries, including a broken pinkie which kept him out of the Fight Hunger Bowl.

I am not going to differentiate true contrition from alligator tears, because I don’t know and because I do not think football players owe the public moral rectitude in their private lives, but if Seattle attempts to “reclaim” Austin Seferian-Jenkins, it will not be the first team to try. People change though and often quite unexpectedly. Mostly for the worse but not without exception, and previous failure does not guarantee future failure.

He’s a local kid with the skill set to be a move tight end, and should the Seahawks dose the VMAC’s water with Antabuse, well ... I imagine that’s a crime of some kind.

That’s only a few names and fewer than I hoped but my time is about up for this week. Wading through largely unknown free agents is a sobering reminder of the failure rate of draft picks. In retrospect, I should have made this post all about Adams who genuinely intrigues me. Oh well. Until next week, remember Be Worry; Don’t Happy.