If Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett might have done and said some things over the weekend that created the idea that he thinks he is on his way out of Seattle, on Monday Bennett said he meant only to point out that every offseason brings uncertainty and no player knows his fate the minute a season ends.
“No,” Bennett said when asked if he has been told by the organization that he might not be back in 2018 as he had hinted after Sunday’s game. “Just saying you just never know with losses and transitions in sports. It’s just one of those things.”
Bennett on Saturday re-tweeted two stories that speculated that he could be a salary cap casualty this offseason and after the game Sunday he had said “whatever happens, I’ve loved being a Seahawk. I’ve had a great career with the Seahawks. You just keep growing and keep playing the best you can.” One answer he gave even opened the idea that Bennett could consider retiring.
But on Monday. Bennett said he is “100 percent” committed to playing in 2018 and hopes it is with the Seahawks.
“Yeah I’m 100 percent committed,” he said. “I think I’m in my prime. I want to play as long as I can. There are so many great players on this team and it’s a great organization.”
Speculation about Bennett’s future revolves largely around his age – he turned 32 on Nov. 13 – and contract.
Bennett, who made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2016, signed a three-year extension in December 2016 that takes him through the 2020 season. But the contract comes with the typical decreasing dead cap numbers and increasing salary cap hits the final three seasons.
Still, Seattle wouldn’t save a whole lot cutting Bennett this offseason – according to OvertheCap.com his contract has a dead cap number of $5.2 million with the team saving only $2.025 million by releasing him (the Seahawks would save $5.5 million and take a dead cap hit of just $1.7 million if it made Bennett a post-June 1 cut. But that wouldn’t help the team much this offseason).
Asked specifically if he wants to be back with the Seahawks, Bennett said “yeah, of course. We have a great team. All the guys coming back from injury. Got (defensive lineman) Sheldon (Richardson) coming back. All these good guys – Frank (Clark), (Jarran) Reed. Always got a lot of great players here.”
Bennett also downplayed the extent of his injuries this season – he hurt his plantar fascia in an Oct. 8 game with the Rams and played with it the rest of the year and then also suffered a knee injury against the Eagles on Dec. 3 that also caused him to regularly sit out practices the final month.
But asked if it was the most difficult season of his career injury-wise, Bennett said no.
“Nah, I just had, every year you have some kind of injury,” he said. “Nobody in the NFL is 100 percent and it’s the people who can play with those injuries who can play the longest and some people can’t do it. But fortunately we’ve got a lot of guys who can do it.”
Bennett has been a focal point of attention all season for off-field reasons as much as on. He made news in September for alleging that he had been the victim of excessive force and racial profiling when he was briefly detained by police in Las Vegas who were investigating a report of a possible live shooter at a casino.
He also sat for the national anthem for all but two Seahawks’ games this season, with other defensive linemen typically joining him in solidarity.
Bennett, though, said he didn’t feel distracted from football this season saying that “it’s a new journey every year” with each season providing its own challenges.
So what will happen with Bennett in 2018?
As Bennett pointed out, since he is under contract through 2020 and wants to continue to play, it’s not his call to make.
“The future is not in my hands,” he said. “It is always in the organization’s hands.”
And for now, he says he doesn’t know what the organization plans to do.