Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has reportedly dropped his agent.
What does that have to do with Bennett’s year-old desire to get more money than Seattle is currently paying him in a $28.5 million contract that still has two more seasons remaining on it?
Bennett was a Pro Bowl selection for the first time this past season. He had a career-high 10 sacks in the regular season. He was the quickest lineman -- on defense or offense -- off the ball on most snaps. He spent much of 2015 in opponents’ backfields, and -- as a he likes to remind all -- plays just about every position on the line: strongside and weakside end depending on the run downs, then inside as a defensive tackle too fast for guards and centers on passing downs.
He isn’t happy that the market rate for defensive ends passed him by last offseason, 12 months after he had signed a four-year contract before the 2014 season. He skipped some minicamps last spring into early summer as something of a protest.
Dropping Rosenhaus could simply mean Bennett is shopping for a new agent. It happens all the time in professional sports, especially while a player is in the middle of contract and not months or weeks from one ending. Clients change for a myriad reasons: financial, philosophical, personal, etc.
Last March a report out of Dallas said Bennett asked Seattle to trade him to Atlanta to play for former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. It wasn’t true. What did that perhaps have to do with Bennett’s now-former agent?
Leaving Rosenhaus could mean Bennett has been listening to teammate Russell Okung tout the financial benefits of not having an agent. The Seahawks’ left tackle is recovering from shoulder surgery and is about to become a free agent March 9 -- while representing himself, with advice from the players’ union.
The NFL Players’ Association sets the maximum commission an agent can receive at 3 percent the total value of any contract. While that may not sound like a huge sum worth going without representation in negotiations, let’s assume a player signs a new, $20 million contract. That player, if he didn’t have an agent, could keep up to $600,000 for himself that would otherwise have been his agent’s commission.
Here’s one, shiny example of what that $20 million player could get with that saved commission fee.
Dropping his agent could be Bennett wanting to change his tack with the Seahawks. He’s hoping the team will revisit his pay this offseason, after he was not only perhaps the Seahawks’ best defensive player in 2015 but also a good employee. He shelved that unhappiness with his contract enough to show up on time for training camp, while teammate Kam Chancellor did not. The safety started a two-month holdout that extended into the first two games of the season, both Seattle losses. Bennett also played through toe pain that eventually required a game-week injection late in the year, all while having his best season yet.
Before the final game of the Seahawks’ season last month, three days before the playoff loss at Carolina, I asked Bennett if what he’d done changes his position -- or increases the chances he gets a raise this offseason.
“My position is always the same. I think I’m one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL,” Bennett said, “and I could play any position. So I will let it unfold when it comes around.”
General manager John Schneider has made it clear the Seahawks don’t renegotiate contracts that have more than one season remaining on them. That stance was why Chancellor’s holdout went through all of August’s preseason and then through the first two games of the regular season before the strong safety returned -- without a raise.
But the team did, in 2014, give running back Marshawn Lynch what had been scheduled to be future money upfront in added guarantees to get him to end a weeklong holdout at the start of training camp.
That could be what ultimately happens between the Seahawks and Bennett in the coming months -- no matter who is representing him.
When I asked Bennett on Jan. 14 if he thinks he gained admiration and traction in contract considerations with how he played hurt while not missing a game this past season, he shook his head.
“I don’t know. I think every guy in the NFL is playing through injury, whether it’s been Big Ben (Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s quarterback), or (Atlanta wide receiver) Julio (Jones) with his ankle,” Bennett said. “Everybody has some kind of injury going on in the NFL.
“I don’t know if it’s going to hold much clout, but I just try to do my job and keep going from there.”