Michael Bennett checked in at No. 7 when ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson joined me in ranking all players from the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos heading into Super Bowl XLVIII. The ranking was arguably on the high side, but there was also no denying what Bennett brought to the Seahawks’ defensive line in his first full season with the team. The way Bennett and the Seahawks’ defensive rotation played during a 43-8 victory over the Broncos provided some validation.
Re-signing Bennett was important for the Seahawks as they attempt to sustain their championship success. The four-year contract agreement they reached with him Monday gave Seattle its first key victory of the 2014 offseason.
The new deal for Bennett, which pays him $10 million the first year and $6 million in the second, contains $16 million in guarantees and should fit nicely into the contractual void created when the Seahawks parted with starting defensive end Red Bryant last week. Seattle got good value from Bryant over the years, but he was a two-down player set to turn 30 years old in April, and injuries had limited him significantly in 2012. Bryant’s salary was scheduled to reach $8.5 million this coming season even as he was becoming less valuable within a deepening rotation.
With Bryant gone and the 28-year-old Bennett back in the fold, the Seahawks are in position to pursue a plan that will include rewarding other key players. First, however, Seattle figures to pare back in other areas while diving into the market.
Here’s a look at what should come next for the defending Super Bowl champion