Michael Bennett had a breakout season in 2012, but he’s hitting the open market after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to give him the franchise tag before the deadline last week. But even though he’s hitting the open market and is expected to draw a lot of attention, the defensive end is saying he’s going to give the Bucs final say in where he signs in that he’ll allow them to match whatever offer he is about to sign with another team.
“”I’m definitely still hoping everything works out with the Bucs,” Bennett said. “A lot can still happen once things get going. I’ll give the Bucs the chance to match any offer I get. I love the Bucs and want to finish [my career] here.”
The Buccaneers didn’t place the franchise tag on Bennett because they don’t view him as an $11 million player. The Bucs also believe that Da’Quan Bowers is the way of the future at defensive end and plan to use him heavily in 2013 regardless of whether or not Bennett comes back. So even though Bennett is giving the Bucs final say on matching any and all offers he gets from other teams, the only way he’s coming back to Tampa is if it’s well below that $11 million mark and even then his return is a long shot.
Essentially, he’s a stud defensive end but he’s not a priority for the Bucs at this moment in time.
The Tennessee Titans have already showed interest in Bennett and could emerge as the team that lands him when free agency starts on Tuesday. But if there’s one thing to take out of all this, it’s Michael Bennett’s loyalty to the Buccaneers and that’s something that is learned from within the organization and speaks very highly of how things are run down in Tampa.