The Seahawks have traded Pro Bowl DE Michael Bennett and a seventh-round draft pick to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles for WR receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick, according to reports Wednesday from ESPN and the NFL Network.
Bennett confirmed the deal on his Twitter account:
🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🎟🏅🏅🏅🏅 free meek mill pic.twitter.com/RgpOme044m
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) March 7, 2018
Bennett, who will be 33 in November, was hampered by knee and foot problems last season but still made the Pro Bowl. He speculated after the 9-7 finish that he had probably played his last for the Seahawks.
“I’ll be fine,” Bennett said after the loss to Arizona. “Whatever happens, I’ve loved being a Seahawk. I’ve had a great career with the Seahawks. You just keep growing and keep playing the best you can. You love the organization and you love the players that you played with. I’ve won a lot of games.
“So if I’m not here, I would never have any hard feelings toward the organization. I love Pete Carroll and John Schneider and you just move forward. This is a part of football. This is a part of the sport. You move forward and play for another organization if you get the opportunity.”
The trade saves $2.2 million in cap money for 2018, but Seattle has to eat $5.1 million in dead money. Moving Bennett gets the Seahawks out from under more onerous base salaries — $7 million in 2019 and $8.5 million in 2020 — that were part of the contract extension he signed in 2016. It also removes a key defender in Seattle’s two most recent Super Bowl teams — he played 85 percent of the snaps last season and had 8.5 sacks and 24 QB hits — and a locker-room standout.
Bennett is a leader in the NFL’s player protest movement, including sitting for the national anthem prior to most games. He also made public allegations that he was racially profiled while being detained at gunpoint by police in Las Vegas during reports of a shooting at a casino. The police disputed his account, but the controversy went national and became a polarizing issue in the discussion about race and police.
Carroll suggested at his season-ending presser that the non-football issues may have impacted Bennett’s play.
“Would it have affected yours?” Carroll said. “Think about what he went through; and it wasn’t just on a small scale personal deal, it went nationwide. He did his best to handle it and that’s all he could do. Whether it had an impact or not, I don’t know. Talk to Mike.”
Bennett has a book, co-written with Dave Zirin of The Nation, coming out April 3, called, Things That Make White People Uncomfortable.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said in a TV interview Tuesday that part of the reason for a potential trade of Benentt was to “quiet things down” in the Seahawks locker room, despite the fact that the Bennett was voted Man of the Year by the team for his fight against social injustice as well as his philanthropy and and community work.
Johnson, 23, a 6-1, 204-pound undrafted free agent from University of Texas, played in 10 games for the Eagles last season, catching five passes for 45 yards. He was inactive for most of the second half of the season because he didn’t figure into special teams.
He could in the mix to replace WR Paul Richardson, an unrestricted free agent who may not re-sign with Seattle.