SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 11: Running back Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints is hit by defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field on January 11, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The Chicago Bears weren’t thought to be in a position in terms of the salary cap to make a big splash in free agency, which begins on Tuesday, but there is one fairly significant player that they are giving some serious looks.
That player is Michael Bennett, a defensive end from the Seattle Seahawks and arguably one of the top prizes in this year’s crop of free agents. Bennett, whose brother Martellus is the tight end for the Bears, is going to command some serious salary, but with the ability to cut Julius Peppers and potentially restructure Jay Cutler’s massive new contract, the Bears could get creative from a cap perspective to land Bennett.
Here’s what Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune had to say about it:
“More signs point to Bennett being the No. 1 free agent on general manager Phil Emery’s want list after the Tribune reported Saturday the Bears were in strong pursuit of the defensive end to re-energize the club’s pass rush.
“If signed, the Bears would likely plug him in at right end, possibly leading to the departure of Julius Peppers. Officials for three other clubs linked Bennett to the Bears and two said they expect it to happen after free agency opens at 3pm Tuesday. One source said Bennett could visit Halas Hall on Tuesday, but rules of the current negotiating window prohibit such a meeting from being scheduled.”
In his first season with the Seahawks, Bennett had an outstanding year, racking up 31 tackles and 8.5 sacks for the best defense in the NFL. He also had nine sacks and 41 tackles for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.
If the Bears could somehow convince the 28-year old defensive end to come to Chicago, it would not only be quite a birthday present for Martellus (who turns 27 on Monday), but it would also be a huge boost to the team’s rebuild on the defensive side of the ball. There would still be plenty of other holes to address (including the defensive end on the other side of the formation), but at the very least it would give the Bears a good cornerstone to build the rest of the defense around.