Soon-to-be free agent defensive end Michael Bennett said that he is “not sure” if the door is closed on his possible return to the Buccaneers during a recent interview with Justin Pawlowski and Gary Shelton on 98.7 WFAN. Though he did say that he would “give the Bucs [a] chance to match any offer.” The team’s sack leader in 2012 (9) claimed that he would like to remain with the Bucs, the team where he began his career after being cut by Seattle.
Bennett claimed that there were upwards of eight teams involved in attaining the second-year starter’s services, but declined to name them. However, Pawlowski was quick to bring up his ties to former Bucs defensive line coach Keith Millard, who is currently a defensive assistant/pass rush specialist with the Tennessee Titans.
“Keith does a great job of getting the best out of you. I would love any opportunity to be coached by Keith. He is the one who helped me […] reach my potential.” The relationship between this particular player and coach is so strong that Millard actually watched tape of Bennett during the 2012 season and provided a bit of coaching from a distance, according to Bennett. “He is one of my closest friends.”
Bennett dispelled any notion that he would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for an opportunity to play with his brother, tight end Martellus Bennett. Laughing at the thought, in fact. He said it is a topic that his parents discuss daily and that it would be a dream come true, but Bennett made it clear that he is looking for the highest bidder.
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk went as far as to say that the Bucs had no chance of resigning Bennett, “A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that Bennett will not give the Bucs a chance to match. Per the source, Bennett misspoke.”
To say he misspoke is a half-truth. When Bennett stuck to the script, he said all the right things regarding the Buccaneers, “This year I think [the Bucs] will be better with another year under the defense. Coach Schiano is going to push everybody to do more and understand the defense even better.” He pointed to the combination of losing Adrian Clayborn to a knee injury in week three, relying on young cornerbacks and adjusting to a new defensive scheme as the reasons the Bucs defense was unable to reach their potential last season.
But when posed questions, he was more candid. Bennett admitted that he is facing an up-hill battle to fend off Da’Quan Bowers, whom the Bucs spent a second round pick on in 2011. “I [am] a guy who wasn’t drafted in the organization…every job has politics. They like who they like and if they want me to be around, they [will] make sure that I’m around. They have enough cap room.”
It is clear that a “perfect world” scenario would be necessary for Michael Bennett to remain in Tampa Bay, but don’t forget “It’s a Buc’s Life.”