The Michael Bennett era in Tampa Bay ended up being short lived. The defensive end had a breakout 2012 season but he’ll be following up his great campaign in a different uniform as the Buccaneers are not expected to make a reasonable offer to Bennett before he hits the open market on Tuesday. There was some hope by Bucs fans that Bennett would be retained but Mark Dominik and the Tampa front office are not willing to surrender the type of money Bennett wants for they type of player he’d be next season.
That’s not to say Bennett won’t be a great player next season, the Buccaneers just envision Bennett as a nickel rusher and don’t plan on featuring him heavily at defensive end. Instead, the plan moving forward is to feature Da’Quan Bowers at defensive end as the Bucs are confident he won’t miss any games due to his arrest in New York on a gun charge earlier this year.
Even if Bennett stays in Tampa, the Buccaneers vision is to use Bowers at end, so it’s a fruitless effort to throw money at a guy they apparently don’t want back that bad.
Bennett will be free to talk to whoever he wants this weekend and the Buccaneers won’t be making a run at him when he hits the market on Tuesday. After having a standout season in Tampa last year, Bennett is expected to draw significant attention in free agency and may even end up in New York with his older brother Martellus Bennett.
No matter where he lands, one thing is certain: Michael Bennett will have 31 suitors in free agency as the Buccaneers will not be among the teams pursuing him.