Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks reward Michael Bennett’s good-soldiering: 3 years, $17.5M

gbell@thenewstribune.com

The Seahawks are giving Michael Bennett a three-year contract extension potentially worth over $31 million.
The Seahawks are giving Michael Bennett a three-year contract extension potentially worth over $31 million. AP

Anyone with ears could hear Michael Bennett was unhappy.

But instead of holding out or making his desire for a raise a distraction these last two years, the veteran defensive end showed up on time for each of the Seahawks’ training camps.

“I just want to show up and be a great teammate, no distractions for the team,” Bennett said on the first day of 2016’s training camp in July.

“I just want to be a Seahawk for the rest of my life.”

He played through a toe injury that made it difficult for him to walk last year. This season, he hurried back from arthroscopic knee surgery to re-anchor Seattle’s defensive front.

And most important for the team, he continued to excel. He dominated offensive lines and lived in opposing backfields. He made his first Pro Bowl last season, and made it again this season.

That — handling his unhappiness the right way, in team management’s view — is why the Seahawks rewarded Bennett on Friday with the contract extension he’s wanted, but never quite demanded.

Agent Doug Hendrickson confirmed on Friday morning his client and the Seahawks agreed to a three-year contract extension potentially worth more than $31 million. Seattle now has the 31-year-old Bennett under contract through the 2020 season, setting up Bennett to retire as a Seahawk.

“Paul Allen is a great owner,” Bennett said Friday afternoon of the Seahawks’ final authority, after the team announced his new deal. “He wanted to give me an extension. They all wanted to give me an extension.

“It’s pretty cool.

“I love the city. Love the fans here. Love the culture of the city. I want to retire as a Seahawk.”

This is also cool: The contract first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network includes $17.5 million in guarantees.

That’s a remarkable reward for a 31-year-old coming off knee surgery.

Fellow franchise cornerstone Earl Thomas was happy for him, chiming in on Twitter while still in a leg cast for a broken tibia that has him out for the season:

“Congrats to black Santa on his new deal! @Mosesbread72 pick me up in the Lamborghini I’ll prop my leg out the window..” Thomas posted.

“We’ve had a master plan all along,” coach Pete Carroll said following Friday’s practice for Sunday’s regular-season finale at San Francisco. “(General manager John Schneider) has done a marvelous job of sticking with it. You can see the formulas. It’s really clear. We’ve rewarded the guys that have been with us and have been our core players, our core leadership.

“It’s a good day. We have a chance to recognize Mike and do something for the future. The guy’s been a terrific player for us and he’s been a great team guy for us.

“Mike has been a guy who was hoping he’d have a chance to retire as a Seahawk and wants to be here and be part of this thing. He’s shown nothing but that, so it’s nice recognition for him.”

Asked why it seemed difficult for him to get the new contract, Bennett sounded like he was in any walk of life.

“It’s always difficult when you want to get more money,” he said. “You always want to get more money (because) football is never stress-free.”

Schneider set a something of a precedent by giving Bennett a new contract with more than one year remaining on his previous four-year, $28.5 million deal. It was just one game and the playoffs beyond that year left, but it’s still a notable exception.

Schneider had previously refused to negotiate extensions with veterans with multiple season remaining on their Seahawks contracts. The most prominent refusal was to safety Kam Chancellor last year. That led to Chancellor’s 54-day holdout. It lasted two games, both losses, into the 2015 regular season.

Schneider moved money around in the summer of 2014 to get running back Marshawn Lynch into camp. Future bonuses became up-front guarantees for Lynch that year.

Bennett was unhappy about his previous extension within a year of signing it in 2014.

The league’s market for defensive linemen soon skyrocketed past Bennett’s money. He entered this season as the NFL’s 27th highest-paid defensive lineman.

But unlike Chancellor, Bennett showed up on time to training camp and played through the toe and knee injuries. He shelved his unhappiness enough to remain a team leader — and one of the league’s most dominant defensive ends.

“That’s the truth,” Carroll said.

“Mike expressed something quite a while back, so it’s come to this day where we finally have a chance to make a statement about it. He’s always done his thing. He’s always done football the way it’s supposed to be done. He’s always been a good team guy. He’s always fought for us just as well as anybody on this team.

“It’s a good day.”

RAWLS READY

Last weekend lead running back Thomas Rawls missed the final two quarters of the loss to Arizona with a bruised shoulder. But Friday was the third consecutive practice in which Rawls fully participated. He wasn’t even listed on the injury report for Sunday’s regular-season finale for the NFC West-champion Seahawks (9-5-1) at San Francisco (2-13).

“We are already in the playoffs,” Rawls said about being able to play.

Every player of the 53-man roster is relatively healthy and not on the injury report — except for C.J. Prosise. The rookie running back remains out with a broken shoulder blade. The team is still a couple weeks away from evaluating whether Prosise might be able to play if Seattle advances in the postseason.

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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