New season, same grievances. The Seattle Seahawks seem to be the NFL leader in unhappy players when it comes to their contracts, with Michael Bennett constantly topping the list, and not shy about voicing his unhappiness.
It seems that every season, before or during it, Bennett finds some media outlet to voice his concern with not getting paid like he should be. Among 4-3 defensive ends, he’s the 11th best paid in the NFL, with a $7 million cap hit this season. In 2015, he had 10 sacks, and led all 4-3 defensive ends in quarterback pressures. His ability to defend the run makes him one of the more versatile DEs in the NFL, and one of the most important defensive players any team can have.
Bennett signed a four-year deal in 2014, making $28.5 million through the contract, which is up after the 2017 season. The way he sees it, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be making the kind of money Fletcher Cox, Olivier Vernon, Robert Quinn and Jason Pierre-Paul are making, the only 4-3 defensive ends who earn $10 million or more on average per season on their current deals. Bennett could have held out for more, but he seems to walk on a line between knowing pay cuts might need to be made in order to have a better team, and the point of his frustration, not making according to his value.
I just want to be fairly compensated with the top guys in the league. I’m definitely one of the top five defensive ends. I’m happy to see guys get paid, but you definitely want to get what you think you’re worth. When you put all the things together, I just don’t see a lot of guys having the type of impact I have. It’s been super hard, because you want to be a great teammate and you want to take care of your family. You want to find a balance. Especially when people are getting new contracts every day. You sit there and you’re like, ‘Damn, really?’ I’m just to the point where it’s kind of like, if you don’t think I’m valuable, then just get rid of me.
If you regard Bennett as one of the defensive stars on the Seattle defense, and according to his contribution over the last few years, including making two Super Bowls, he certainly is, he’s probably the only one who is actually underpaid according to contribution, ranked as the third highest paid defensive player on the team behind Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Kam Chancellor has also voiced his frustrations, even holding out into the regular season, not that it got him anything.
Pete Carroll, ever the players-coach, says Bennett has a right to be frustrated, and that he hopes the Seahawks will take care of him when the time comes. But Seattle doesn’t negotiate with players who have more than one year left on their deal, which means Bennett can be as frustrated as he wants to be, he’s not getting them to open up his deal and give him a raise. The 30-year old knows he’ll need another big season to give him leverage, and make the kind of money he thinks he deserves.