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February 22, 2013 @ 9:20 pm
Current rating: 4.50 Stars/2 Votes

Bucs Bringing Back Bennett Is No Slam Dunk

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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General manager Mark Dominik may be playing a bit of poker with free agent Michael Bennett, but on Friday sounded comfortable heading into the season with Da'Quan Bowers heading out of the tunnel as the Bucs starter at left defensive end in 2013.
Whether it is part of the posturing of free agent negotiations, or if it is actually the way the Buccaneers are feeling, general manager Mark Dominik sounded comfortable heading into 2013 without free agent defensive end Michael Bennett lined up at left end.

In a somewhat surprising statement at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Dominik was very complimentary of recently arrested Da’Quan Bowers during a short session with some of the local Tampa media, and didn’t sound as re-signing Bennett was a priority.

"Da'Quan is a guy I thought continued to accelerate his play throughout the end of the season,'' Dominik said. "The more we can get him on the football field, I think the better we are as a football team. 

“Certainly, that's part of the thought process going forward with our entire football team, hopefully getting Adrian Clayborn back and 100 percent healthy and then be able to pair him with a guy like Da'Quan who we feel can be a premier left end in this league. That certainly has to be part of the entire picture we're looking at, not only with free agency, but how we're putting this thing together.''

Dominik also announced Bennett – or any free agent – would not be franchised.

"We've spoken internally as an organization with ownership, certainly with Greg (Schiano) and me, and we're not going to use the franchise or transition tag on any player on our roster,'' Dominik said.

"We're trying to meet with the agents of every single one of our free agents so they can understand the direction we're thinking, where we're heading. We're still having negotiations or conversations with them. It's hard to say whether they will be productive or not, but it's certainly something we try to do is have meetings with the agents of our free agents and have meaningful dialogue.''

Dominik also said that he had met with Bennett’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but also noted that Tampa Bay may allow Bennett to test the free agent market.

Bennett has 15 sacks over the past two seasons, and was also part of the league’s No. 1 ranked defense against the run. Defensive tackle Roy Miller, another contributor of the Bucs stout run defense, is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent, but Dominik didn’t address the Miller negotiations.

In other Buccaneers news from the Combine, Dominik spoke about injured linebacker Quincy Black.

“This is a unique surgery and it’s going to take time to figure out if it was successful,’’ general manager Mark Dominik told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday. “So you generally like to walk out of any surgery and say that was a successful surgery. But the reality is, that because of the nerve damage and the nerve grafting and everything, you won’t know if it’s successful or not for several months. It’s a tough injury and a unique injury and at the same point it’s hard for us to have any timetable or feel for it.’’

Dominik went onto say the Buccaneers could reach on injury settlement with Black that is worth up to $1.5 million. Black is scheduled to earn $5.75 million ($5.5 million base, $250,000 work out bonus) in 2013.

Last modified on Friday, 22 February 2013 22:10

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  • avatar

    I'm really surprised at this reaction. There's no guarantee that Clayborn is completely healthy or that Bowers will even play. Bennett was top 5 in QB pressures according to ProFootballFocus, a great run defender and he's only 27. With the way the NFL rules are set against defensive backs, the best chance of stopping offenses is with a pass rush, as we saw with the Giants. I would love to see a 3rd down defensive line of Bowers and Clayborn at end with McCoy and Bennett on the inside.
  • avatar

    Roland - same thoughts, but have never named it "3rd down talent". With a healthy (and available) Bowers, Michael Bennett would be the 3rd DE. Someone will pay him starter money. CB at 1, TE at 2 (unless they sign Martellus Bennett). OLB at 3. CB at 4. Beyond that it is either superb scouting or luck to score a starter.
  • avatar

    I have to agree with pinkstob here. We clearly need a number 3 DE. Bennett could be that guy, but some GM will pay him starter money. Hence, reading between the well defined lines tells me Bennett WILL NOT be back in Tampa next year. And I'm fine with that. ----- Find a Vet to be our 3rd DE AND teach our young guys some tricks and then a mid-round DE (from a deep DE draft) to compete. ----- Overall Dominik needs to spend the money on players to improve our THIRD DOWN PLAY. Meaning TE, 3rd down HB, Slot WR, Bump & Run CB, Bump & Run CB, and Nickle CB or spend the money at NT if he sees a clear upgrade. This team will only get better if we bring in 3rd down talent... Guys who move chains or stop teams on 3rd down.
  • avatar

    I don't know why Bennett would take backup money to stay here when a team like Atlanta would give Bennett starters money. They're on the verge of winning the Super Bowl and may be willing to pay more for a DE to put them over the edge. I agree with Dominik on this one though since I think Bowers will be the better player.
  • avatar

    Love to see Bennett signed for at least 1 yr to provide quality depth at the position, regardless of Bowers outcome. Also agree w/ the idea of not overpaying for his services. IMO it's a lot easier to plug a new guy into the D-line & expect instant production than the O-line. Excluding most rook's..of coarse! I think another disruptive DT worthy of double-teams could help our present DE's get the job done just fine without hurting the RunD. Assuming a run is in the cards w/ these guys, salary cap management will go a long way towards defining the window. Best to not fall into the trap of overpaying anyone at this stage of the game.
  • avatar

    All i know is Dominik said a few times that the Bucs have never let a player leave the Bucs that they wanted on the team.Believe he meant since he has been GM or at least in recent past.
  • avatar

    Sign Bennett for a fair salary and still go look for a better monster DE and keep Bowers too. You can't have enough quality backups or quality players fighting for the top job. We need them all.
  • avatar

    Bennett was the best DE we had last year beating great tackles around the edge for a sack or pressure...should we over pay?No should we let him go? Hell no!
  • avatar

    Dominik is playing the right hand in this situation; letting Bennett test FA will drive down the price-tag. Without the gaudy sack numbers, teams will be reluctant to pay top dollar for him. Dom is smart in doing this. Rest assured, Bennett will be back in Tampa next season. This is just one move in the FA chess match and one of the reasons why the Bucs are consistently under the cap.
  • avatar

    Bennett is as good as he's going to be. I think the Bucs feel they can get as good as a player with more up side, and way less salary in this draft, I have to agree. Seems Dom isn't to worried about the charges Bowers faces.
  • avatar

    I believe that MB is a really good DE. I think he could end up being a great one. I could see it playing out that it would be better for us to let him walk...I really believe that Bowers could be truly elite, and to me Adrian is going to be a safe 8-10 sack guy for the next long while. That said, it would be a heck of a ballsy move to let your young 9-sack guy walk. It could kill you as a GM or it could make you look like a genius.
  • avatar

    He's not stupid if he's on the Margus Hunt for an Ezekiel Ansah at The DE spot.
  • avatar

    I agree with the GM; there is no reason to way overpay for the average DE in the NFL. Did I miss something here? Did Bennett make All Pro? He wasn't even doubled teamed most of the time because he usually goes wide left.
  • avatar

    If I had to bet money, I'd say they'd let him walk. He is our best DE now but the Bucs feel that Bowers will be better in the long-term. So if they pay Bennett what he wants now, you'll need to justify his salary by putting him on the field and keeping Bowers on the bench. So when Bowers hits free agency in a couple years, he's going to politely tell the Bucs, "F#!@ Yo Couch!!!".
  • avatar

    Translation: We are not going to overpay! And I agree. Franchise money for a DE will be around 11mil/yr. Bennett is a by product of the tampa bay scheme. No other team is going to pay a Tampa Bay player top dollar and Bennett can't go to another team and be a double digit sack artist. The Bucs need to offer a contract in the 6 to 7mil range and Bennett should take it!
  • avatar

    I agree Macabee
  • avatar

    That is a stupid move on Doms, part!
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