The ESPN.com readers and Seahawks fans have spoken. Your decision was clear: Let Michael Bennett go.
I’ll list all the details here, but first, thanks so much to all the readers who participated on our first ever Sound-Off Saturday. The response for a weekend blog in the offseason was overwhelming, so much so that I may make this a regular item as often as possible.
Now, back the question that was asked: If you were Seattle general manager John Schneider for a day and knew you could keep only two of these three free agents -- defense lineman Michael Bennett, wide receiver Golden Tate and kicker Steven Hauschka -- to stay within reason of the salary cap, which two would you re-sign?
You responded in our comments section and on Twitter. By an overwhelming majority, you said Bennett should be the odd man out. Based on reports that surfaced Sunday night, you may be right. Bennett could be joining his brother -- tight end Martellus Bennett -- in Chicago with the Bears if the reports are accurate.
Keeping Tate and Hauschka was the first option of 64 percent of the voters. The other two options were split almost evenly -- 19 percent picked Bennett and Tate and 17 percent went with Bennett and Hauschka.
The responses were across the board, many of which were well thought out. But the prevailing thought was Bennett’s cost could be too high (probably over $40 million for four of five years) and the Seahawks have enough depth of the defensive line to make up for it.
All are fair points. Personally, I’m more in favor of keeping Bennett at the expense of one of the other two, because he is a unique defensive lineman who can play inside or outside and rush the passer from either spot. But the money he could command certainly is a factor.
Three people suggested the Seahawks should let Bennett go and try to sign veteran defensive Jared Allen.
Some of you didn’t pick any of those options on the question. Three readers said the Seahawks should let all three of those free agents go to save cap many for Thomas, Sherman and Wilson.
Three of you thought they could keep all three and still have the cap room needed for the future. One person suggested keeping Bennett and Tate, then trading running back Marshawn Lynch to gain extra cap room.
A couple of readers thought all this could get done if Wilson was willing to take one for the team, so to speak, when the times comes and only ask for $4 million or $5 million a year.
Wilson is a nice guy and all, but that’s not happening. It will take at least three times that, and probably more, when it comes to renegotiating his deal.
Some of you were mad at Bennett for saying he wouldn’t give a hometown discount and for his comment, “This isn’t Costco." Others suggested the Seahawks should be happy to take less just to stay on a Super Bowl team.
Think of contract negotiations in terms of the famous line by Michael Corleone in the Godfather: “It isn’t personal. It’s strictly business.”
NFL players have a small window of opportunity to make big money. They have to get what they can when they have the chance to get it.
The signing period begins at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) Tuesday, so we’ll soon learn where the Seahawks stand with their key free agents. Most of you who put on your GM cap think they should let Bennett go if they have to make the difficult cap decisions.
The real answers are coming.