Sunday, March 17, 2013
Free-agent signing carries cautionary tale
By Mike Sando
The Seattle Seahawks' recent signing of free-agent defensive tackle Michael Bennett comes with an instructive backstory.
The story illustrates how NFL teams come to regret well-intentioned roster moves that appear shortsighted in retrospect.
Immediate needs trump long-term considerations from time to time, and that was the case for the Seahawks when they activated offensive tackle Kyle Williams from the practice squad back in October 2009.
Activating Williams wasn't the problem. Starting tackles Sean Locklear and Walter Jones were unavailable. The need at tackle was dire. But in creating room on the roster for Williams, the Seahawks took the type of risk teams across the NFL wrestle with regularly. They placed a promising young player on waivers one day before a game, hoping to re-sign him early the next week.
Bennett, then a then a promising undrafted rookie from Texas A&M, was the player Seattle released to make room for Williams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers placed waiver claims on Bennett. The Bucs' claim prevailed thanks to their 0-5 record at the time. A prospect Seattle's scouts had uncovered was gone just that fast.
The Seahawks had sacrificed a player with long-term potential for a one-game fix.
Bennett would start 28 games for the Buccaneers beginning in 2010 before Seattle signed him in free agency last week. Bennett, who had nine sacks for Tampa Bay last season, received a one-year deal reportedly worth as much as $5 million. The Seahawks think he can help their interior pass rush while providing depth at defensive end, a position hurt when starter Chris Clemons suffered a knee injury in the playoffs.
Kyle Williams started one game for Seattle, shortly after Bennett's release. He played in seven NFL games overall, starting three, and has not appeared in an NFL game since the 2009 season.