Lack of Preseason Makes a Seahawks Reunion More Viable
As the United States wrestles with a global pandemic it was hopelessly unprepared for, it may leave NFL rookies and young players unprepared for the enormous task before them. With no offseason minicamps or OTAs and the real potential of no preseason games, these players will miss out on crucial reps as they attempt to navigate the waters of the NFL season. The Seahawks appear to understand that.
For the duration of the offseason, Seattle has focused on bringing in as much experience as possible, in particular amongst the positions they figured to be heavily invested in youth. After drafting Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, they brought in Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa. They lost veteran right tackle Germain Ifedi, they replaced him with veteran Brandon Shell.
In reality, the Seahawks will likely have just one rookie starter in their starting lineup, and not too many second year players are slated to start either. Seattle appears to have understood months before what became apparent: the 2020 offseason was going to be unlike anything teams have experienced.
But as Seattle has collected many veterans who fill a sort of "plug and play" role, they haven't really done it at the defensive tackle or 5-tech position. This especially jumps out at the 5-tech position. Coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton seem content with Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier as the primary 5-techs, which strikes me as odd.
We saw positive signs from Green in year 2 of his career, but he has yet to show that he is more than a rotational player. Meanwhile, Collier has yet to show anything at the NFL level, thanks in large part to an ankle injury that cost him most of the preseason in his rookie season.
Green and Collier may prove to be a good tandem and it is possible that one emerges as more than a rotational piece. The Seahawks clearly believe this is the case. But out in free agency sits a veteran 5-tech, with ties to Seattle, a desire to return, and knowledge of Seattle's defense, and his name isn't even Jadeveon Clowney.
Michael Bennett, a key member of the famous "Legion of Boom" defense, has expressed an interest in returning to the Seahawks. Turning 35 years old in November, he didn't exactly leave Seattle in the best of terms, but certainly didn't burn any bridges, at least not publicly.
Since leaving the Seahawks after the 2017 season, Bennett has shown that he still has some game left in his legs, accumulating 15.5 sacks for three teams. He stayed healthy, missing just one game in that time period, but began to transition into the role of a rotational player, making just 11 starts, including just one start in 2019.
Still, Bennett remains a solid player who will not require a lot of ramp-up time. He wants to return to Seattle and at this stage of free agency, would likely have to take a veteran-minimum deal to make that happen.
The beauty of this potential opportunity is that it likely costs the Seahawks next to nothing. If Collier and/or Green emerge, Bennett can still reduce inside on passing downs. If Bennett just can't perform, there will be an easy out without much of a consequence to the cap.
While the average Seahawk fan has been disappointed with the Seahawks acquiring retreads from the glory years of Seattle, Bennett makes sense just as Mayowa and Irvin did. And like that duo, Bennett isn't going to be asked to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player and will simply need to contribute in some capacity.
The Seahawks need insurance at the 5-tech position. They need a capable interior pass rusher. And they don't have a ton of open cap space to make it happen. Michael Bennett can provide that to Seattle.
So long as there aren't any unrepairable fissures and "Black Santa" still wants to play this season, a reunion between the two sides makes too much sense to dismiss. If Clowney isn't coming back and Everson Griffin isn't in the cards, the Seahawks can do a lot worse than re-signing Bennett.