When both Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn were lost for significant parts of the season, the fear was that the Buccaneers would have a defensive line that had one solid player in Gerald McCoy and no edge to it whatsoever. While both Clayborn and Bowers were sorely missed, on man stepped up big time and is going to get a big pay day because of it.
Last season, Michael Bennett sort of arrived on the scene, but he ducked back into his hole after a few impressive showing. Like Bugs Bunny morphed with satan, Bennett burst out of his hole in the ground and firmly onto the scene in Tampa.
Bennett is a free agent following the Buccaneers 7-9 season, and there’s a lot of drama as to whether the Glazers will pony up and pay him what he’s worth — or somewhere near that. Bennett is a restricted free agent, which means the Bucs get the first crack at giving him an offer he can’t refuse but the question is will that offer come?
Martellus Bennett, Michael’s older brother who plays tight end for the New York Giants, would like to pair up in New York and that could end up being a tough situation for the Buccaneers. New York is in serious need of help on the defensive line, and adding Bennett on the edge could give the Giants a signifiant one next season.
But the younger Bennett would love to stay in Tampa if he can.
“I want to be back because I’ve been here a long time and I grew up with the Bucs so it would be a pretty good chance to come back and play again with these guys,” Bennett said.
Bennett said on Monday that he has not yet been contacted by the Bucs regarding his contract, but that’s not yet bothering him. He admits that even he hasn’t really thought about the negotiation process at this point in the Bucs offseason. But one thing Bennett has thought about is staying in Tampa.
“I haven’t thought that far into it as far as franchise tag or long term deal,” he said. “But ultimately you want to have a deal with this team with the way things are going. All the young players they’ve got coming in here and making big plays that I can just look forward to the players that they are going to draft and come in here next year and see where things are going to be.”
While Bennett’s words are indeed sincere, this is really the beginning of the negotiating game. Bennett has made is public knowledge that he wants to stay at the right price, firmly placing the ball in the Glazers court.
Bennett is owed some serious cash, but players in his position tend to inflate their worth, while owners are always trying to get the best possible deal, even if that means low balling a budding star. We will see how this process plays out, but the best obvious outcome involves Bennett staying on the Bucs defensive front for a very long time.