INDIANAPOLIS — Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Thursday that re-signing unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Michael Bennett is a priority.
Schneider doesn’t anticipate using the franchise tag on Bennett – or anyone, for that matter – so the Seahawks will have to fight the open market for Bennett’s services.
“He’s a top priority, sure,” Schneider said. “He had a great season. Proved to be versatile. Is a great guy, a fun guy to be around. Hopefully we can get something worked out.”
Last week on the NFL Network, Bennett was asked about giving the Seahawks a “hometown” discount of sorts because they first signed him, and then he blossomed with them this past season.
“There is no such thing as discount,” Bennett responded. “This is not Costco, this is not Walmart – this is real life. ... There is no discount really because you go out there and you don’t give a discount on effort; you go out there and you give the best effort every day and you fight for your teammates, and you want to be compensated for the way that you perform and the kind of teammate you are.”
Bennett, 28, led the Seahawks with 8.5 sacks, and was a force in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl. He’s also a gregarious guy who fit well in the loose and young Seahawks locker room.
Like most teams, the Seahawks will have to tango with what’s expected to be a raised salary cap to have a shot at retaining crucial players. Looming are the contracts of Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, who are both entering the final years of their deals. They can become unrestricted free agents after the 2014 season.
“Every day we have different models set up,” Schneider said. “We’re going to try to do whatever we can (possibly do) to keep this core together. We have days ahead that are going to be hard because they are going to be tough decisions.”
LYNCH TO PLEAD GUILTY TO LESSER CHARGE
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will plead guilty Friday to a lesser charge of “wet reckless driving,” which will close his ongoing DUI case stemming from a summer 2012 arrest, according to Ivan Golde, his lawyer.
Lynch will have to pay a $1,080 fine and attend six classes on driving safety and alcohol consumption in California. Lynch does not have to be physically in Alameda County Court on Friday.
Golde said he thinks they could have won the case, but that Lynch’s heightened fame following the Super Bowl made them not want to go through a public trial.
Golde also said he hopes this lesser charge means that Lynch will not be suspended by the NFL. “I would certainly hope so and think so,” Golde said.
Lynch was arrested by the California Highway Patrol early morning on July 14, 2012, when a police officer observed him driving north on Interstate 880 in Oakland, weaving in and out of lanes in a white Ford van and nearly colliding with two cars.
After failing a preliminary sobriety test, Lynch was taken into custody and transported to a jail in Oakland. Lynch submitted to a breathalyzer test, and the test came back positive that his blood alcohol content level was over the state’s legal limit of 0.08.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office filed charges against Lynch for driving under the influence of alcohol on July 18, 2012.
Lynch pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol in Alameda County Superior Court in August 2012.
Sending strong messages to DUI offenders in the league has been a priority in recent years for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
LOCKER TRYING TO COME BACK
Jake Locker’s health is again a topic for the Tennessee Titans.
Locker missed the final seven games of last season because of a Lisfranc (foot) injury in Week 10 against Jacksonville. He missed two games earlier in the season because of a sprained right hip and knee. Locker has played just 18 of 32 games during the 2012-13 seasons.
The Titans are hopeful that Locker will be ready for organized team activities, which start May 29. Not only is Tennessee trying to work Locker back in, but it also will be doing so with a new coach in Ken Whisenhunt.
“From what I’ve seen, Jake exhibits a lot of qualities you can get excited about,” Whisenhunt said. “One of the things that we’ve done is trying to tailor what we do to the strengths of the player. With Jake and seeing some of the things he can do, we don’t know what direction it is going to go. From what I’ve seen, those qualities that he’s exhibited, the arrow is definitely going up.”
Everyone from Titans CEO Tommy Smith to general manager Ruston Webster has endorsed Locker, who is in the final year of his contract after being selected eighth overall out of Washington in 2011.
“The only thing we can really evaluate for us with Jake is how he’s been in practice when he’s been healthy, and how he’s played when he’s been healthy. And he’s played well,” Webster said. “From that standpoint, the view we have is good. It’s really just about him staying healthy, and he knows that.
“I think Jake is (Whisenhunt’s) kind of guy from the standpoint of his work ethic, how he attacks the game from a mental standpoint. Jake is going to be around the office all the time watching film and trying to get better and I think that’s one thing coach Whisenhunt wants.”