In the end, Michael Bennett saves his bear hug for Seahawks

Posted Mar 10, 2014

Michael Bennett had the opportunity to sign elsewhere in free agency. But he wanted to remain with the Seahawks, so the versatile defensive lineman re-signed with the team on the eve of the NFL’s free-agency period.

His brother was waiting and so were the Chicago Bears. But Michael Bennett had a wish to go with his free-agent plan, and that was to return to the Seahawks.

So despite the best efforts of his brother, Martellus, and the team the tight end in the family signed with in free agency last year, Michael Bennett remains a Seahawk after signing a four-year contract Monday.

“I don’t know if there was any doubt, but there was a lot of speculation and a lot of teams tried to get me to come there,” the versatile and productive defensive lineman said during a news conference in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “But ultimately I wanted to come back and get a chance to play with these guys and just win some more games.

“My brother understands my situation. It was all on me, not really him. So I feel like I made the right decision and I’m just happy to be back.”

Seattle always has been a special place for Bennett, and his love affair with the team and its fans only intensified after the Seahawks’ run to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history during the 2013 season. Bennett was a big part of it, leading the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense with 8.5 sacks during the regular season and then adding 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries during the playoffs.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best of Michael Bennett

“I just love the organization and the things they’re about,” Bennett said. “I love the staff – from the equipment staff to the medical staff, it just goes on and on. Everybody here, they’re good people. And I really enjoy that.

“I love the fans here, and that’s one of the main reasons I came back. … These people, they just love the players and I appreciate that and how much they put into being one of the biggest reasons why we win games.”

It was the Seahawks who signed Bennett as a rookie free agent in 2009, and liked him enough that they carried 11 defensive linemen when it came time to reduce the roster to 53 players. It was the Seahawks who lost Bennett that same October, because they had to release him due to a rash of injuries on the offensive line. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed Bennett and he played for them through the 2012 season.

But when he became an unrestricted free agent last year, Bennett headed back to Seattle – signing a one-year deal for less money than he could have made elsewhere.

“I’m just happy to be here, the place where I started my career,” Bennett said just after signing his new deal and before facing the TV cameras and reporters. “I came back, they gave me another chance. To play again here is just a blessing.”

Retaining Bennett was Priority One for the Seahawks, so getting him signed on the eve of the free-agency period that begins Tuesday was huge – for the team and the player. Bennett referred to it as starting from the bottom but getting to the top, and taking that “chance” last offseason connected the two.

“This is actually exactly what it was for,” he said. “To come here, win the Super Bowl, play with all the guys I grew up with, just to win it felt really good and to get the contract is even better.

“It’s been amazing the career I’ve been able to have so far. Just to be a guy who wasn’t drafted and to be more successful than a lot of guys who were in front of me, it’s just been a great ride so far.”