Michael Bennett still isn’t happy with his contract.
And he will still be reporting to training camp on time this summer, as usual.
The Seahawks’ Pro Bowl defensive end said Tuesday on Seattle’s 710-AM radio his stance hasn’t changed from this time last year: He wants more than he is getting paid with the four-year, $28.5 million contract he signed before the 2014 season. But he won’t turn his issue into a holdout.
The glib Bennett said he was choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment right avoiding self-incrimination when asked about how he feels about his deal that has two years remaining on it.
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“Because no matter what I say, it’s going to come back and haunt me,” Bennett told the “Brock and Salk” morning show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
He did add: “Any American wants to get paid more at their job. I don’t think there’s anybody who goes to work who says, ‘I’m happy with how much I’m getting paid, and I love it. Don’t give me any more money.’”
For the second consecutive offseason Bennett is skipping the first parts of his team’s voluntary offseason workouts at its Renton headquarters. He’s spent most of this spring at his home in Hawaii, though he’s in Seattle this week for a round of charity events.
I learned at the end of February that the Seahawks and Bennett’s side had not talked about a new contract, despite two national reports saying Bennett’s new agent had met with Seattle on a possible new deal.
Yet at the end of his 17 minutes or so chatting on the radio Tuesday, Bennett said he will be on the field practicing at the end of July when the Seahawks begin training camp in Renton -- just as he was last summer, unlike then-holdout teammate Kam Chancellor.
“Why would I not be in training camp?” Bennett said Tuesday, with his voice rising over a chuckle. “I will see you at training camp, for sure.”
The formerly undrafted Bennett was initially cut by the Seahawks in 2009 as a rookie. He returned from Tampa Bay in 2013. He mentioned Tuesday how he’s the NFL’s 22nd-highest paid defensive end. He’s actually 20th by average contract value per year, $7,125,000, tied with teammate Cliff Avril. He’s coming off his first Pro Bowl season when he had a career-best 10 sacks and spent the fall into winter wrecking offensive linemen at the snap and largely living in oppposing backfields while as an end on early downs and a speedy tackle inside on passing downs.
Bennett is the 10th-highest earner among ends that play in a 4-3 defense, but that’s splitting hairs.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider has maintained a policy of not re-doing contracts that have more than one year left on them, though he made something of an exception before the 2014 season to move future money into up-front guarantees to get running back Marshawn Lynch into training camp. The team doesn’t want a conga line of players lined up outside the GM’s door wanting similar early raises if Bennett and similarly unhappy Chancellor (who held out for more than 50 days past Seattle’s 0-2 start to last season) get theirs. Free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman, for instance, each have three years remaining on their big-bucks extensions.
Bennett made the point Tuesday on the radio Tuesday that Thomas and Sherman are already at the top of the NFL in pay at their positions, so that conga-line argument doesn’t apply in what he sees as his exceptional case of being woefully underpaid versus recent performance.
Bennett is 30 years old. That’s an age the clock isn’t ticking but booming on NFL careers -- just ask the now-retired Lynch. Bennett, like the often-hurt, 28-year-old Chancellor, wants to earn all he can now for his wife and three daughters before his football-earning window abruptly slams shut.
“Of course, I want to be in Seattle as long as possible,” Bennett told 710-AM. “Everything about Seattle: I love the city, I love the team, I love my teammates, love what was going on, love how we do things. I just love it here.”
Bennett being Bennett, he had other, humorous things to say -- such as about Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford stayed away from two weeks of offseason workouts in Philadelphia and wanted to be traded because his team drafted quarterback Carson Wentz No. 2 overall last month to compete with him. Bradford signed a $35 million, two-year contract with the Eagles on March 1.
“I just almost threw up,” Bennett said. “I can’t believe Sam Bradford is complaining about making $40 million in the next two years, and because he actually has to compete for a position. This guy, this guy right here definitely sets a bad tone of what a player should be.
“If I was his teammate . . . how can you play with a guy that doesn’t want to compete at a high level and feels like his position should be solidified without even putting up the stats or the wins to back that up?”
You can listen to the entire interview here.