Michael Bennett And Free Agency

March 8th, 2013

“Show me the money, baby. Show me the love.”

Aside from what Ronde Barber is going to do in his immediate future — he met with the Bucs’ brass yesterday and both parties are tight-lipped about the meeting — the biggest question with Bucs free agents is what is going to happen to Michael Bennett.

Longtime Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times believes Bennett has played his final snap with the Bucs.

Tampa Bay plans to play Da’Quan Bowers, a second-round pick from Clemson in 2011, at left defensive end. They are confident he won’t miss games due to his gun charges in New York. And remember, a few years ago, he led the nation in sacks and was considered a top five pick until a knee injury dropped him in the draft.

The Bucs decided not to use their franchise or transition tag on Bennett, meaning they don’t think he’s an $11-million per year player. If he remained in Tampa Bay, he would be a nickel pass rusher if the Bucs plans to start Bowers were realized.

Here’s what Joe would like to know: Did the Bucs annoint Da’Quan Bowers the starter because Bennett is not coming back? Look, Joe likes Bowers a lot. And he has shown flashes of being dominant. But not only has he not been consistent, he has yet to play a full season and always seems to be hurt.

Letting Bennett walk, unless someone is going to drop stupid cash in his lap (a strong possibility), doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Bucs shouldn’t let their most productive pass rusher walk away if there is a chance to match his offer from another team, so long as it is not obscene money.

Having Bowers start at left defensive end has a bunch of potholes right now. Yes, there’s his health. Anyone forget that many expected Bowers to have a short career because of a bum knee? No, he hasn’t had any knee problems — yet. At least none anyone is aware of.

And who knows if he will be available in 2014 because of his handgun hassle in New York?

Oh, and what about that coveted rotation the Bucs always brag about on their defensive line because of the brutal early-season Florida heat? That goes out the window if Bennett is gone.

This is why Joe has had a hunch for months the Bucs would draft a defensive end in the first round. If what Stroud suggests comes true, it just reinforces Joe’s premise.

28 Responses to “Michael Bennett And Free Agency”

  1. flmike Says:

    And with the 13th pick of the 2014 NFL draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick:
    Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah DE – BYU

  2. @MikeInTampa2 Says:

    We cannot afford to lose proven players and hope a draft pick fills the need. We need depth anyway. They better be active in Free Agency or this won’t sit well with fans or the players in the locker room

  3. bob Says:

    our d line has not been good, since he has been here so top fa money makes no sense, we could spend it more wisely on draft pick

  4. Warrenfb12 Says:

    Get to steppin Michael.

  5. 2002 seems so far away Says:

    C’mon Joe! This is three stories in a row on an average Defensive end on an average defensive line! We have to get better on our line, and he has never taken that next step in his career in my opinion to become a staple on this defensive line that we can build around. He’s a 7 or 8 sack a year kinda guy, not a 15-20 guy like we need. If we had that stud already than I think Bennett would be a nice counter part.

  6. bucfanjeff Says:

    I imagine the Bucs talked to his agent about what they feel he’s worth – say 6mil or so a year. I’m sure they have a gentlemens agreement on seeing what the open market brings him and a first right of refusal handshake. That said, somebody will want to overpay him – say 10mil a year and the Bucs will let him go. I can’t blame them, he’s not worth that much. It is a gamble with Clayborne and Bowers’ injury concerns.

    I would love to see him back at the right price.
    We’ll see what happens this weekend during the “negotiating” period.

  7. Jacko101 Says:

    I mean Bennett was pretty good, not amazing so it’s hard to justify BIG money just because he is our best pass rusher. I don’t think any team is going to throw large money at him so let’s let this play out how it plays out.

  8. SirustheVirus Says:

    I wonder what Bennett is trying to get? $8.5 -9.5 million a year? Seems the Bucs never wanted him. He was just a step up from Tim Crowder, but when Bowers got hurt he had to step in. Seems the Bucs have there eye on someone( Abraham or Draft prospect?) to just let him go not knowing if Bowers court date wil play in his favor(which I hear it should be).

  9. the_buc_realist Says:

    If this move happens, then it is proof that the pop-star is desperately trying to get his past draft picks to stick. When coach started throwing out the draft bust last year the boy-genius GM was sweating then.

  10. Paul Says:

    Rick Stroud’s predictions are never right. Bower’s thing is a smoke screen. I don’t think he’s even a 1 mil cap hit. Bowers looked pretty heavy to be playing on a surgically repaired achilles

  11. KD Says:

    Bowers IS better. Remember that game where in 2011 where he constantly harassed Cam Newton with absolutely no help on defense? If he had any push up the middle at all he would’ve had a 3 sack game (Gerald was injured by this time – if I recall he had fat Albert and Roy Miller lining up next to him). They did hang 48 on us, but that’s more on our offense going 3-and-out every single series and the defensive backs playing patty-cake with each other rather than doing their job. Bennett has never taken over a game like that because he doesn’t have the ability to take over a game like that. He relies on McCoy’s double teams and push up the middle to his sacks.

    In the final 6 games of the season Bennett had 2 sacks – both coming against the Eagles, who arguably had the worst offensive line in the league last year (especially at OT). How is that acceptable? Where was he?

    In the final 10 games of 2011 Bennett had 2 sacks…10 GAMES!

    The way some people are talking (not you, Joe) they make it sound like we’re losing some sort Julius Peppers in the making. We’re losing an average defensive end at best. Someone is going to overpay for this guy and regret it in a major way. It’s not going to be the Bucs…they’ve made that clear. This team can do better than an overpaid Michael Bennett and I think they plan to this offseason. We’ll see.

  12. Mike J Says:

    PFF has Michael near the top in the league in QB pressures; coach Gibron used to say that a pressure was better than a sack as it gave you a chance to make a big play on defense.
    Another thing: in a way, Bennett is two players: a DE who sets the edge on run downs, & does so well; & a pass-rushing DT on passing downs. Exactly how do they plan to replace that part of his game??
    Is there any proof to the report going around that M.B. has given the Bucs the right to match any offer he receives from another club?

  13. Thibs5599 Says:

    Obviously we all want Bennett to come back to Tampa. However we have two solid young DE on this team who have had injury problems but have tons of potential. I think the key to this is Daniel Teo – Neshiem, he played very well against the run last year while subbing in for an injured Clayborn and the Bucs are high on him. He reminds me of how the Bucs brought Bennett along and I think they are figuring him into future plans as well.

  14. tampabaybucfan Says:

    As with all personnel issues, its what we don’t know that is important. Everything else is pure speculation. We have to trust the “Rock Star” and the “New Schiano Order” to make the right decision on Bennett.
    Perhaps they don’t want his brother and they are waiting to see if someone else will pair them up. Perhaps there is a handshake deal on first right. It is better to let him test the market than to overpay to keep him off the market.

  15. Buc Neckid Says:

    I do not think either Bennett will be on the Bucs next year.
    So Drafting on the DLine makes sense.
    That would be 3 First Round Picks on the DLine (McCoy, Clayborn and 2013 #1) and a guy in Bowers that may have been the #1 pick in his draft before the Knee issues.
    It would be a nice Rotation that would Keep Pressure on the opposition making even last years DB’s better. Bowers is big enough that he can Play Inside when do the 3 man DLine Front with LB on Outside just like Bennett did. Cannot pay $10+ Million per year in a Multi Year deal to keep Bennett and think about keeping McCoy, Clayborn, Bowers and this 2013 DLine #13 Pick locked up long term with their Renewal Contracts (if that is their plan). For whatever reason, for negotiations with Bennett this year or otherwise, the Bucs interest in Bennett does not seem like he is a High Priority.
    PLUS – Drafting DL does not sound Crazy if Milliner is off the Board when the BUcs pick as the other CB’s are not #13 quality of pick.

  16. Neil Says:

    If we don’t bring back Bennett, we surely need someone else for that rotation. Remember how bad we were hurting last year after Clayborn went down and Bowers was out. I never even knew who Teo-Neshiem was. Everyone was saying let’s pick up a free agent defensive end in the middle of the season. Bennett was just straight solid all around, super-star….I don’t know about that, but he was disruptive. But, as someone pointed out…down the stretch when Joe kept mentioning on here the significance of Bennett reaching double-digit sacks…and he never got there. I was cursing the defensive line when Nick Foles went right down the field against the D and they couldn’t get their hands on him. Clayborn was one of my favorite players, the only few games he played last year though he didn’t do much of anything. So, if we move forward without Bennett (who played most of the snaps) we definitely need to bring in a veteran. Free agency is such an exciting time! Point is, even with Bennett, we’ve had virtually no pass rush and near last in sacks every year! Paul Kruger is another one of those high-motor guys but he may demand more money than Bennett. I like Bowers and Clayborn, but you just can’t be confident without another proven pass rusher backing them up.

  17. Pewter_Power Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. They have a perfect example of a team over paying for an average defensive end right in their own division. Anyone remember when Atlanta paid all that money for Ray Edwards? I don’t want to see that happen to my Bucs.

  18. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    We have Bowers, and I don’t think Bennett fits our plans. I see Dom using our first pick on another pass rusher or D Lineman. Tampa will not resign him, unless he is super cheap.

  19. Kalind Says:

    2002 is right. Come on Joe. This guys is hardly a dominant pass rusher. He’s good against the run, but not dominant. He lined up in front of local hero Lavonte all year. I feel I need to repeat this…there is almost NO WAY the Bucs draft an end this year in rd.1. Why would you draft a bench guy in round one when you can draft a starter at another position? DT, CB, FS, SAM, RT. despite needing a starter at all those positions, or an upgrade (RT, DT) they’re going to draft a backup pass rusher? D-ends ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS, take multiple years to figure out how to rush the passer. Bjorne or (god help us) Ziggy are not going to help this year and probably not much next year.

    All that being said, I want to bring Bennett back, but I don’t want to break the bank for a backup 8-9 sacks a year guy. Mark Dominik is far too smart for that. And that’s why we’re always Ina good cap situation. Come on Joe, get off the pass rush bandwagon. It’s not happening.

  20. Adam L Says:

    Bowers was a 2nd round pick made by Mark Dominik.


    Bennett’s most intriguing and valuable asset is that he was not a Dominik draftee. That automatically makes him better.

  21. jarrett Says:

    you cannot have to many defensive ends, it will be mistake if he walks

  22. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    I don’t think losing Bennett would be as big a blow as some are making it out to be. And don’t forget he isn’t gone yet. Dominik could be allowing him to test free agency to accurately determine his value. Bennett’s agent might be asking for more than Dominik believes he will be offered by other teams. Or they could get a contract done today. We simply don’t know what is happening behind the scenes.

    I can tell you this, though: the Bucs can and will keep any player they believe is a foundational piece for the future. If they let Bennett go, that is NOT evidence that the Bucs “lost” him. It is actually evidence that the Bucs didn’t put his value as high as some fans (and, um, bloggers & media types) seem to put it.

  23. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    Letting him go can only be justified if he is asking for way to much. We will see what happens when he signs his contract with whoever. But banking on Bowers to be special at this point in his career is crazy and a major risk… it could be the final nail in Dom’s coffin if our D-Line is even worse next year.

  24. Joc Says:

    Well Dom made the right decision on Quincy and mike clayton and Derrick ward. Wait no he didn’t

  25. RustyRhino Says:

    I hope we bring Bennett back. Our GM brought Bennett to our team to play DE and from that point Bennett has gotten better and better. Is he a top 10 DE, not yet but his stats have gotten better and better. Do we break the bank for him no. But pay this buccaneer man we should. I like Teo as well but not as much as Bennett.

  26. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    PFT is reporting John Abraham is paying a visit to Tampa. Is the interest legitimate or are they letting Rosenhaus know they won’t be overpaying Bennett and they have options? Interesting.

  27. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    Are they allowed to visit right now? I didnt think they could do that or even talk to another team until Free Agency starts?

  28. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    They can visit and negotiate as of midnight tonight, and they can sign contracts starting Tuesday.