Whenever a talented player is acquired for a low price that seems too good to be true, there’s always a question: what’s the catch?
In these situations, it usually doesn’t take long for a player’s former team to leak unflattering commentary about them to the media. We saw this with Eagles’ trade for Jay Ajayi during the 2017 season.
Now we’re already beginning to hear some concerns about new Eagles pass rusher Michael Bennett. Via Albert Breer of The MMQB:
We’ll have more on the Michael Bennett trade later in the column, but I wanted to address first what the Eagles are getting from the Seahawks: A player who isn’t quite what he was and picked his spots more than he has in the past, according to the three offensive coaches I asked about him. He was also a pain in the ass for the Seattle coaches. The good news? With the depth of the Eagles defensive line, Bennett will be more of a spot player there, and Philly’s locker room, on paper, is a good fit.
Defensive end Michael Bennett became, to some degree, a problem for the coaches last year and his play was less consistent with a lower top end at 32.
So now we have a better idea for the Seahawks’ motivation behind the trade. Not that this is necessarily surprising. Everyone knows that Bennett is an outspoken individual.
Does that mean he’s going to come to Philadelphia and ruin the locker room chemistry? Anything’s possible, but I doubt it. There was concern about the aforementioned Ajayi coming in and being disruptive. That never manifested.
The Eagles have a strong locker room with leaders like Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, etc. Players have also heaped praise upon head coach Doug Pederson for being a great communicator. Bennett might not be the easiest player in the world to manage, but it’s not like he’s so bad that he disrupts team success. The Seahawks won plenty of games (not to mention a Super Bowl title) during his time in Seattle.
As for the questions about his effort, that seems anecdotal to me. His strong pass rush numbers certainly don’t indicate he’s taking a lot of plays off. Neither does the tape:
It's a 30-13 game, 4th quarter 2:50 left Seattle is up. Michael Bennett is playing like its 0-0 in OT. Amazing play. pic.twitter.com/HXOq6v23FF— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) March 4, 2016
And besides, as Breer noted, the Eagles are going to heavily rotate their defensive linemen. Bennett is not going to play the 941 snaps he played in 2017. The most amount of snaps any one Eagles defensive lineman played last season was 728 by Brandon Graham. Assuming Bennett steps in for Vinny Curry’s role, he could be in line to play something like 642 snaps. That would be about 300 fewer than last year.
The Eagles obviously did their homework on Bennett before trading for him. They might have even conferred with one of his former Seattle teammates who is currently on Philadelphia’s roster, Chris Maragos. They have an idea of what they’re getting into.
Even if we assume the worst and Bennett turns out to be a big problem for the Birds, it’s not like they’re tied to him beyond this year. He can be cut with zero dead money after this season. And it’s not like the Eagles gave up much to get him, either.