By Brady Henderson
The song remains the same with Michael Bennett. He wants to return to the Seahawks and he says the interest is mutual; it's just a matter of whether the sides can come to an agreement.
The Seahawks defensive lineman shared some encouraging news on that front Monday, telling SiriuxXM NFL Radio that preliminary talks with coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider "have been positive."
Re-signing defensive end Michael Bennett has been called a "top priority" by general manager John Schneider. (AP)
"I had conversations before I left," he told "SiriusXM Blitz"hosts Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon. "Pete expressed that he wanted me to be here and so did John, and they're going to do the best they can do to try to work out a deal. And I look forward to that, get a chance to come back."
Carroll and Schneider have both stated their desire to bring back Bennett, who was arguably the Seahawks' best defensive lineman in 2013 while leading the Super Bowl champions with 8.5 sacks in the regular season and 1.5 more in the playoffs. Schneider even called Bennett "a top priority."
Seattle freed up $12.8 million in salary-cap space last week by releasing defensive end Red Bryant and wide receiver Sidney Rice, which gives the Seahawks more financial flexibility as they try to maintain the remainder of their championship roster.
While Bennett said the two sides haven't reached the stage of contract talks where numbers are exchanged, he indicated that could begin within the next day or so now that the franchise-tag period has ended.
The deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag came and went Monday without the Seahawks using the designation on Bennett or any of their other pending free agents. Bennett wasn't expecting to be tagged and he didn't want to be, instead preferring the long-term deal he's been seeking since last offseason.
After posting a career-high nine sacks with Tampa Bay in 2012, Bennett hit the market as one of the top free-agent pass rushers only to find that the interest wasn't what he had hoped. He settled for a one-year, $4.8 million with Seattle, figuring that playing in front of the NFL's best secondary and inside the league's loudest stadium would help him turn in another productive season and thereby raise his value. He did his part, and he hopes it has put him in position for the payday that wasn't there a year ago.
"Last year it was a little upsetting. I played at the same level (in 2012) I played last year and then not to get a long-term deal was a little upsetting," he said. "But God has his way he works and getting a chance to play with the Seahawks and go out there and dominate was one of the best things that ever happened to me. This year it's just a whole different feeling, coming in with a lot more notoriety. It just feels really good."
There's likely to be more interest in Bennett this time around, and one team that is believed to be a potential suitor is the Bears. They undoubtedly would be if Bennett's younger brother, Martellus, was the team's general manager instead of its starting tight end. Michael said Martellus has been contacting him "about every other day" trying to convince him to come to Chicago. Martellus took the recruitment to Twitter Monday, writing that Michael can give him a late birthday present by signing with the Bears when free agency begins March 11.
"That would be a great feeling," Michael Bennett said about possibly reuniting with his brother, "but I'm looking forward to being a Seahawk, and hopefully that happens."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.