After a year of struggling to create consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, general manager John Schneider and his staff went out and made several additions to Seattle’s pass rush this past offseason. Among those moves, the organization brought back defensive end Benson Mayowa.
Originally signing with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Mayowa spent most of his rookie season on the team’s practice squad and only appeared in a pair of games. Since then, the 29-year old has traveled around the league over his last six seasons, playing with the Raiders (two separate stints), Cowboys, and Cardinals.
Now returning to the Pacific Northwest on a one-year, $3.05 million deal, the Idaho product faces different challenges than he did during his rookie campaign. As a veteran, he must be able to make the transition to a leadership role in a locker room that’s full of young and developing players.
“We don’t have Cliff [Avril], we don’t have Mike B [Bennett], we don’t have Clem [Chris Clemons], so it’s me and Bruce [Irvin]. I’m the vet now and those guys that I was looking up to aren’t here and now the guys here are looking up to me,” Mayowa discussed. “It’s a big change from year one to year eight and my role is bigger now. They’re depending on me and I’m depending on myself. It’s a big change and I’m taking it on.”
Considering Mayowa was forced to endure a tough road to make it in the league, he already featured a small chip on his shoulder as a rookie and needed to continue to put it on display since departing from the Seahawks in 2014. Noting some of his improvements over the years, the California native revealed that he’s become a learner of the game, which has allowed him to improve his technique as a pass rusher.
In particular, Mayowa really hit his stride with the Cowboys during the 2016 campaign. Pushed into a starting role out of necessity, the veteran defensive end made six starts, producing 15 solo tackles, nine quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and one forced fumble.
As a result of these encouraging results, Mayowa received a major spike in confidence and started proving to everyone - including himself - he’s capable of playing in this league at a high level.
Despite serving as a reserve player in Oakland last season, Mayowa still found a way to be productive during his seventh season in the league, producing career-highs in sacks (7.0) and forced fumbles (three). While his production declined midway through the season due to diminished snaps, the 6-foot-3 defensive end is looking to forward to turning the page to 2020.
Considering the way Mayowa’s playing time was handled in 2019, he’s very excited to receive an opportunity to potentially earn regular snaps as a starter with the Seahawks this season. While he'll still need to earn the starting gig, the veteran really appreciates that his talent is finally being recognized in Seattle and that aspect was one of the main reasons why he wanted to return to where his career began. Now he's ready to help his new/old team win games any way he can.
“I’m happy to have the opportunity of being the guy in front. I feel like that’s something I’ve never had and that’s something I never had coming into camp. I feel like amongst all that’s what I appreciate the most, having the opportunity to come in and put my strides forward,” Mayowa explained. “I was always the rotational guy, the second guy. Whether I’m better than the guy that’s in front or not, that was always my role and it just feels good to be the guy that’s stepping on the front line.”