With a desperate need at pass rush, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could look to an old friend for the boost they need.
Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? If we knew back in 2012 what we know now, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers never would have let Michael Bennett walk out the door, into free agency, and on to the field for the Seattle Seahawks. Instead, it has been five years of second guessing and criticizing the Bucs’ brass over a player that could have been the man to break the double digit sack drought.
Now, it appears as though a reunion with the Pro Bowl defensive end is more possible than ever before.
During an interview at the Pro Bowl with Rock Riley of Joe Bucs Fan and Sports Talk Florida 1040 AM in Tampa, Bennett would be more than open to returning to the city he once called home;
"“If anything ever happened with Seattle, I mean Tampa would be like an ideal to go back and get a chance to win a championship with those guys. But right now I’m a Seahawk, so. But it’s always cool to have your old teammates want you to back on the team because it means you made a really good impression on them and you’re really good friends.”"
Since leaving the Buccaneers, Bennett has amassed 39 sacks – including one season with ten – as well as seven forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Lining him up alongside Gerald McCoy and opposite Noah Spence could give the Bucs that speed rush on the edges they haven’t had in a decade.
Bennett is no stranger to controversy. He was arrested in Las Vegas and claimed it was racially motivated. Once the body cam footage was released, some believed it was justified given the circumstance. No charges were filed and Bennett was allowed to go about his business. Bennett is also one of the more outspoken players in regards to the anthem protests. Whether or not that trend continues into 2018 is obviously yet to be determined, but some teams may view it as a reason to avoid him. As for the Buccaneers, they’ve seen receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson kneel during the anthem – albeit Jackson once, Evans twice over two seasons – so there’s no reason to think they would take issue with Bennett.
At the end of the day, pursuing Bennett – should he become available – makes too much sense to ignore. He’s an immediate upgrade and an impact player that the Bucs desperately need. The pass rush should be the number one priority this off-season and bringing Bennett back will go a long way.