Seattle Seahawks standout defensive end Michael Bennett has agreed to a three-year, $31.5 million contract extension with the team, according to a source with knowledge of the agreement who spoke to The Huffington Post.
The contract reportedly includes $17.5 million in guarantees and bonuses. Bennett will earn $16 million in 2017 and $19 million by March of 2018, the source told HuffPost.
The deal is unheard of for a soon-to-be 32-year-old defensive linemen. It is also unique for the team, which has never done a deal with a player who has at least one year remaining on his contract. (Bennett had been signed through next season.)
Bennett was previously the 27th-highest paid defensive linemen in the NFL. He held out briefly during training camp with the hopes of inking an extension, telling HuffPost, “You definitely want to get what you think you’re worth. When you put all the things together, I just don’t see a lot of guys having the type of impact I have.”
Bennett helped the Seahawks lead the league in total defense over each of the last four seasons, including their Super Bowl victory over Denver. A Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and 2016, he has become one of the league’s premier two-way defensive ends, ranking first in quarterback hurries for all 4-3 defensive ends last year.
Last offseason, Bennett skipped voluntary workouts but showed up for a mandatory minicamp and training camp. His production has been down in 2016, but only because he was hit by a series of injuries. He had to miss five games after undergoing knee surgery following a Week 6 game against Atlanta, and then suffered a neck injury in Seattle’s Week 15 win over the Rams.
But when he’s been on the field, Bennett’s been terrific, tallying a slew of sacks and stops in the backfield.
The decision to extend Bennett’s contract comes after the team has agreed to long-term extensions with linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, along with defensive backs Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas ― all elite players at their respective positions. Head coach Pete Carroll told HuffPost before the season, “We’re gonna make an effort ― an effort so he remains a Seahawk.”
Undrafted in 2009 out of Texas A&M, Bennett was originally signed by the Seahawks before establishing himself as a legitimate starter with Tampa Bay. Then, he returned to Seattle in 2013, where he’s been a constant wrecking force ever since.
The 9-5-1 Seahawks recently earned an NFC West championship for the third time in four years. Carroll and General Manager John Schneider hope that a happy and healthy Bennett means even more production for the league’s second-best scoring defense, and in turn, another deep postseason run.