March 08, 2019
The Eagles got a steal last season when they traded basically nothing for Seahawks' defensive end Michael Bennett.
Nine sacks, 15 tackles for loss and an impressively productive season later, Bennett wants to get paid what he deserves, but it probably won't come from the Eagles. The 33-year-old defensive end went on NFL Network on Friday and said he would not accept a pay cut — something the cash-strapped Eagles were likely contemplating.
With two years left on his deal but no penalty for being released, saying he wants more money could be a signal he is trying to avoid being traded, as that information could hurt his trade value. As a free agent, Bennett would be free to pick his next destination.
According to Philly.com's Jeff McLane, there isn't much of a path for the Birds to keep the veteran around:
Michael Bennett’s playing days with the Eagles are all but over. Of immediate question is whether the Eagles can trade the defensive end before releasing him, or if they would simply cut the veteran loose before free agency opens Wednesday.
The Eagles have discussed the possibility of trading Bennett with other teams, according to multiple NFL sources. The team’s leverage in negotiations is that it could bring him back for 2019, but two sources close to the situation said Bennett will eventually be released, barring something unforeseen, in lieu of a deal. [Philly.com]
Defensive end is a complicated situation for the Eagles. They have Derek Barnett under contract and recently extended Brandon Graham. Their depth beyond that is in doubt. Chris Long is contemplating retirement but may return. Josh Sweat had an up-and-down rookie year and will be fighting for a spot in the defensive line rotation.
The Eagles could look at free agency to try and find an option cheaper than the $7.2 million Bennett would be due in 2019. With the top defensive ends all getting franchise tagged by their respective teams, Bennett could be as highly ranked as third among free agent DE's, behind Trey Flowers and Za’Darius Smith. The Eagles may be forced to look at lesser options, like Shaquil Barrett, Preston Smith or Ziggy Ansah, among others.
The draft is extremely deep at both D-line spots, and Bennett's possible departure makes it even more likely Philly will go that route in April.
Whether Bennett is cut, or the Eagles' find a trade partner for the 25th highest paid defensive end in football is yet to be seen, but if anyone can make a deal happen it's Howie Roseman.
Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports