Is Michael Bennett the best free agent in the NFL?

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When defensive end Michael Bennett announced last month that he would not give the Seahawks a discount on a new contract, many of Seattle’s fans went coocoo for cocoa puffs. Some people went so far as to say they don’t want him back with the team next year regardless of cost.

Well, those people are going to be upset because I can pretty much guarantee that the Seahawks will in fact be paying Bennett top dollar to stay. It’s been reported that the team has every intention of doing so, and so far John Schneider’s moves have all been in line with freeing up as much salary as possible in order to sign a big long-term deal.

Sidney Rice and Red Bryant have been cut, Zach Miller might be on the chopping block, and a number of their unrestricted free agents will be allowed to walk for the simple reason that this team is too damn deep and it doesn’t need them.

But Tim, couldn’t that just mean that the Seahawks are saving that money to re-sign Golden Tate and Steven Hauschka?

No. Schneider did not get where he is today by misjudging the quality of football players. If you’re unconvinced of Bennett’s value you should know that Pro Football Focus published a list yesterday of the top 75 free agents in the NFL. Can you guess who was number one? Read here.

Still not convinced? Look at Bennett’s track record. He faced a similar situation prior to the 2012 season, so he took a one year deal with Tampa Bay, banking on his talent to earn a raise with a contender. Bennett racked up nine sacks and a fumble recovery. In 2013 with the Seahawks he had 8.5 sacks and scored a touchdown on a fumble return against the Saints. In the playoffs he was even better, with two forced fumbles, one of which turned the momentum in the NFC Championship against the 49ers.

Last season all things considered Bennett may have been the best pass rusher in the playoffs for the best defense the NFL has seen in a decade. Why on earth would he settle for a discount? And what team in their right mind would insult him with an offer that qualifies as one?

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