1:21pm: The Seahawks are denying any knowledge of Bennett wanting to be traded, tweets Terry Blount of ESPN.com. The team says it has not heard that from either Bennett or agent Drew Rosenhaus, says Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter links).
1:00pm: Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn joined the Falcons as the team’s new head coach this offseason, and he’s already brought one former Seattle pass rusher – O’Brien Schofield – with him to Atlanta. Now, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, another key Seahawks defender wants to join Quinn in Atlanta. Citing multiple sources, Hill reports (via Twitter) that Michael Bennett is seeking a trade to the Falcons, and wants a new contract.
Bennett, 29, was eligible for a new contract a year ago, ranking first on PFR’s list of top free agents for 2014. However, despite receiving serious interest from the Bears, Bennett elected to return to the defending-champion Seahawks on a four-year contract worth just $28.5MM, with $10MM in guaranteed money.
If Bennett had gone to the highest bidder on the open market, his payday likely would have been significantly higher than what he received from Seattle, and while his 2015 base salary is now guaranteed, his deal doesn’t include any more guaranteed money beyond this season. So it makes some sense that he’d want a new contract, particularly since he has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in recent years — Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him as the league’s second-best 4-3 defensive end in 2014, as he racked up an impressive 72 total quarterback pressures.
Still, Bennett made the decision to return to the Seahawks for a lesser rate, and the team was essentially one play away from repeating as Super Bowl champions this past year, so it seems unusual that the Texas A&M product would want out of Seattle. It could help explain why the Seahawks have been bringing in a number of defensive linemen for visits though, with Chris Canty and Anthony Spencer reportedly in town today, and Greg Hardy due in later this week.
As one of the league’s best pass rushers, Bennett won’t come cheap in any deal, so assuming Hill’s report is accurate, we’ll have to wait and see if the Falcons would be willing to part with a high draft pick to land him, or if the Seahawks are even open to discussing a trade.