This offseason, the Chicago Bears’ biggest concern will be finding a few defensive linemen capable of putting pressure on opposing passers. One potential free agent who could fill the void is Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett.
While the Bears are going to be tight in terms of spendable money, they can’t ignore the defensive line heading into 2014. With Henry Melton and Nate Collins both coming off of season-ending injuries and headed for free agency, the defensive tackle spot is a serious sore thumb. Stephen Paea never panned out as a quality starter, and Jay Ratliff was a short-term Band-Aid, which means an upgrade is necessary.
Bennett, however, is coming off another outstanding year. After breaking out as a playmaker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012, he continued to shine with the Seahawks in 2013, finishing the year with 31 total tackles, 8.5 sacks and a 34.1 Pro Football Focus rating – good for No. 5 among qualified defensive ends.
Now you may be wondering why he’s a fit if I said he’s a defensive end and they need a defensive tackle. Well, Bennett is a very versatile player who can move all along in the defensive line. Whether the Bears need him to play left end or the three-technique, it would be no problem for the 6’4’’, 278-pounder. He’s strong enough to play inside, but quick and agile enough to work on the edges.
Starting left end Corey Wootton is also scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, so that’s another void Bennett could fill if the Bears choose not to re-sign the 2010 fourth-round pick.
To make the situation even more interesting, there’s a family connection that could entice Bennett into accepting a deal with the Bears. His younger brother, Martellus, plays tight end in Chicago, and both have shown a serious interest in playing together.
While it might not be enough reason to turn down a more-lucrative offer elsewhere, the brotherly bond could convince Bennett to sign with the Bears if they and another team offer similar deals. It’s certainly the sort of leverage to consider when free agency rolls around.
Either way, the Bears would love to bring Bennett aboard. He’d play a premier role in Chicago, whereas he served in a situational role in Seattle.
If the Bears can muster up the money to bring Bennett aboard, they’d be wise to pull the trigger.