This week, the big news — and I’m really stretching the definition of big here — is the announcement by Michael Bennett (a.k.a., Michael X) that he will not resign will the ‘Hawks and will sample the free market. This doesn’t mean he for sure will not be a Seahawk next season — as a free agent he can negotiate with any of the 32 teams in the NFL, and the Seahawks are one of these teams — but common sense dictates that the likelihood of Bennett returning is now significantly decreased. It’s simple probability: 1 > 1 / 32. Maybe 32 isn’t the correct denominator — not every team in the league will make a run at X — but one over one is still much bigger than, say, one over ten.
The key point is that the Seahawks will now have to outbid other teams, and I’m skeptical they will do so. I don’t think the ‘Hawks want to overpay him, and an overpay seems to be in his future. His team just won the Super Bowl, and he made many key plays to help their cause. He had his best games at the best time. Bennett’s regular season was pretty good, but it’s not like he’s Robert Quinn or J.J. Watt. He’s a nice piece on a good defense; he’s not a transcendent talent. If he had his exact same season, but with, say, the Bills instead of the champion Seahawks, I doubt he’d be garnering anything close to the attention he’s getting now. Bennett is a college basketball player who hit some key shots in the tournament for the champion, and now he’s going to go ten places higher in the draft than he should.
And I don’t think it’s going to be the Seahawks to take him. For one thing, they chose not to franchise him and pay him a premium for one year. For another thing, they have yet to cut Chris Clemons, which leads me to believe Schneider & Co. think there’s a decent chance they’re not resigning Bennett, and so they don’t want to lose another pass rusher, even an aging one with a $6 million cap hit. Plus, keep in mind, it only takes one team to make X a Godfather offer, and now that the cap is up to $133 million, it’s even more likely some team will do so. As Seahawks fans, we might want to take some time to familiarize ourselves with O’Brien Schofield and Jordan Hill. There’s a decent chance they’re getting some serious run next season.
Anyway, since it’s the offseason, and there’s nothing going on but meaningless speculation about where players will sign, I decided I’m going to start profiling random players from the Ghost of Seahawks Past. Since we’ve been talking about Michael Bennett this entry, I decided to take a closer look at one of the best D-linemen in Seahawks history, Jeff Bryant.
Bryant was selected out of Clemson with the 6th overall pick in the 1982 draft. You could say the ‘Hawks whiffed by not picking Mike Munchak or Marcus Allen, both of whom went just a few selections later. But in every draft you can cherry pick a Hall of Famer or two who, in hindsight, should’ve gone higher. Looking at the the draft overall, Seattle did pretty well in getting Bryant. (He had a far superior career to the number one overall pick, a fellow defensive end named Kenneth Sims.) I mean, if you tell NFL decision-makers that with the 6th pick, they’ll be getting a good-to-very-good starter for 11 years, I think they take it.
After a fine rookie showing, Bryant teamed up with Jacob Green and Joe Nash on a D-line that helped the ‘Hawks to the 1983 AFC Championship Game. They dominated an Elway-less Broncos team in the wild card game and then kept Dan Marino in check in a divisional round upset before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion LA Raiders.
The following year was Bryant’s best as an individual — he recorded 14.5 sacks, intercepted the only pass of his career, and made the All-AFC Second Team. And his best as part of a team — the Seahawks went 12-4, their best record in franchise history pre-Super Bowl XL. In the playoffs, the Seahawks extracted revenge on the Raiders (in a game in which LA QB Jim Plunkett was sacked six times) and had revenged extracted on them by the eventual AFC champion Dolphins.
Bryant played in Seattle his entire career. He rode the wave of slightly above mediocrity that was the Seahawks of the late-’80s and early-’90s, and then he retired in 1993 during the free fall of the Tom Flores Era. He started all 16 games for the ’92 squad, the best defense in franchise history pre-2012.* The D-line on that team was absolutely fearsome. The great Jacob Green had already retired,** but Tony Woods was a pretty good fill-in opposite Bryant, and Joe Nash and Cortez Kennedy were blocks of granite on the inside. ‘Tez in particular had a season like few D-tackles have ever had. He led the team with 14 sacks and finished second with 92 tackles, absurdly absurd numbers for an interior lineman. I guess that’s why he was named the Defensive Player of the Year and would eventually go on to be enshrined in Canton.
Jeff Bryant is (obviously) not enshrined in Canton. He’s not even in the Seahawks Ring of Honor, but it wouldn’t be weird if he was (although Joe Nash should go in first). He wore number 77, and this is my favorite picture of him I found on-line.
I figure it must have been taken Bryant’s rookie year, 1982***. The ‘Hawks defense was pretty good that year; they only gave up 16 points a game, 5th best in the league. But the team had an awful offense and a losing record. Also, I guess the whole “Burn Center” thing never caught on, as this is the first I’ve ever heard of it.
Alright, I’m done rambling about Jeff Bryant. I’ll let you go now.
PS — I just noticed that the Seahawks resigned Lemuel Jeanpierre and Jeron Johnson for the 2014 season. The appropriate response to this is somewhere between a sarcastic “Whoopie!” and an earnest “OK”. Depth, I guess.
*And the worst offense in franchise history and arguably the worst passing offense in any franchise history. Here’s a great stat: The wide receiver with most catches on the ’92 Seahawks was Tommy Kane with 27.
**Technically he was playing a final (bad) year with the 49ers, but he might as well have been retired.