After all this time, Michael Bennett still holds bitter feelings about leaving the Buccaneers.
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Buccaneers fans remember this guy all too well. Michael Bennett began his career in Tampa after an early release from Seattle in 2009. While a member of the Bucs, Bennett posted 15 sacks, 98 tackles, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over four seasons, covering 50 games (28 starts).
Not too bad for an undrafted free agent.
However, after concerns about an injury as well as concerns about his discipline for the defensive scheme, he was allowed to leave and signed back with Seattle. We know how good he has been since then. We saw him earn that Super Bowl ring we all covet. Many fans harbored anger and resentment, feeling Bennett never should have been allowed to leave.
Well if it is any consolation, Bennett wasn’t happy about it either. In fact, he still harbors some bitterness. He also has an interesting theory as to why it happened, as he told Jenna Laine of ESPN:
"“I just feel like the Glazers (Tampa Bay’s owners) didn’t like me for some reason,” Bennett said. “I didn’t understand why. I always played through injury, I did exactly what they asked me to do but I never understood why I didn’t stay there.”"
Now, Da’Quan Bowers had been drafted in 2011, and he understood the investment made in him, which he went on to tell Jenna. But, it seems a bit curious to blame the owners. Bennett had just come off of a year where he led the team with nine sacks and posted career highs in both tackles (41) and forced fumbles (3).
Why would the owners step in and have a problem with the guy? Doesn’t the saying, ‘Don’t mess with success’, still hold?
If anything, the idea of their being an issue with Schiano makes more sense. Now, I don’t mean that he was some great coach, don’t get me wrong. We all saw how he did in Tampa. We are also all trying to forget it. But be that as it may, when a new coach is coming in, he is going to look for players that fit his system. That goes even more for a college coach making the jump. He is used to recruiting players he thinks he can work with, not inheriting players. In the early going as an NFL coach, he is going to make moves that he believes suit his system.
If Greg Schiano was more of a driving force in Bennett being allowed to walk, that would make more sense than the owners making a big deal out of it.
Whatever the reason, the Bucs have missed Bennett. His nine sacks have only been eclipsed once since he left (Gerald McCoy with 9.5 in 2013). The Bucs are still waiting for their next playoff appearance, although it seems that they are on the right track.
At least the young man liked it here. The Glazers must be doing something right. You miss him Bucs fans, and Michael Bennett misses you too.