What a difference a year makes! Free agency will be a lot better this year
— Drew Rosenhaus (@RosenhausSports) March 8, 2014
The Tweet above appeared last night, just after the ‘legal tampering’ phase of free agency began.
24 hours later, Drew Rosenhaus appears to be right.
It is going to be a lot different this year.
(By the way, do you know who Michael Bennett’s agent is? His name rhymes with ‘Brew Chosen House’.)
Today Everson Griffen re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings on a $42.5m contract with $20m guaranteed.
That’s for the guy who recorded 5.5 sacks last year, by the way.
In four years he has just 17.5 sacks.
Now he’s getting paid $8m a year.
I think we can kiss goodbye to any hopes Michael Bennett is re-joining the Seahawks for $8m a year.
He’s a better pass rusher. He has better production. He’s just better.
The rising cap is having the desired impact. If the Griffen deal is any indication, teams are willing to spend a little more on ‘middle class’ talent. And while we’ll still see a few one year ‘prove it’ deals in the second stage of free agency, I suspect the big names will be snapped up very quickly.
Age plays a part of course. Griffen doesn’t turn 27 until December 22nd. The Vikings clearly believe he has development potential under their new coaching staff. They’re likely to go after Michael Johnson too, with Jared Allen moving on to pastures new.
If the Seahawks want Bennett, they’re probably going to have to fork out big money. And the money just isn’t there to make a long standing, expensive commitment.
He won’t be easy to replace if he does move on.
Especially not this off-season.
They might have to get creative. It might be a case of adjusting what they can do up front.
They have enough funds to look at Allen — but even he might generate a bigger market than first anticipated.
This is a crucial next few days for Seattle. It’s not just Bennett. Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald were crucial players on the defensive line. Golden Tate will get some interest, while even Steven Hauschka and O’Brien Schofield carry value.
Walter Thurmond was an underrated figure in Seattle’s secondary too. Breno Giacomini, for me, is as good as any right tackle in the league.
Losing Bennett might increase the chances of those players being kept — but don’t make any assumptions here. If the market is red hot on Tuesday, you can bet your life teams will go after a piece of Seattle’s pie.
The value of guys like McDaniel and McDonald could go beyond what is realistic for the Seahawks. At the end of the day, you’re not going to give either a big contract just because Bennett’s moving on.
If spending is increasing dramatically in the open market, Seattle’s stars could easily see their value sky rocket. Hey — they were part of a relentless, dominating defense.
If you lose those two players plus Bennett and Red Bryant — that’s a heck of a lot of change up front. Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons are only contracted through 2014 too, so there’s really no long term consistency on the defensive line outside of Brandon Mebane (who has a deal until 2015).
Seattle’s secondary gets a lot of publicity — and rightly so.
But you need a pass rush and you need to play the run well. It all starts there. The Seahawks defense took the next step last season because they had superior pass rush options compared to 2012.
Fortunately Seattle has a front office known for pulling a few strings and making things happen. Nobody expected the Percy Harvin/Bennett/Avril moves a year ago. They’re playing with less money and more holes this year, but you know they’ll have a plan of some kind.
They’ll need one. Because this is going to be a great challenge.
By the way, I wonder if this is any indication as to where Bennett ends up? Coincidence?
Tomorrow on @NFL_AM catch the debut of a new weekly segment with Martellus & Michael Bennett. Airs around 8:35 AM ET
— NFL Media PR (@InsideNFLMedia) March 9, 2014