John McMullen - NFL Editor Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
NFL players have a very short shelf life to make significant amounts of money so it's tough to fault anyone who has outperformed a contract when they go knocking on the door to ask for more.
After all, teams have no qualms jettisoning talent when it underperforms so the holdout remains about the only tool a player has when it comes to renegotiating upward.
That said, the holdout these days is not like you're sitting on a royal flush. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, threatening to stay away from training camp is more like holding a pair of deuces, and almost everyone folds in the wake of potential training-camp fines or actual missed paychecks.
Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett caused a bit of a stir in what is the only time of the year where the NFL doesn't rule the sports-news cycle, remarking over the weekend that he wouldn't mind staying at home in Honolulu when Seahawks begin training camp next month.
"Of course, I think I've outplayed the contract that they gave me," Bennett told KHON TV. "It's one of those things where you have to let your agent do the talking with the team and hopefully something good comes out of it. It never hurts to try."
Bennett skipped all the voluntary work this offseason in an attempt to get Seattle to address his contract issues for the second time in two years before showing for mandatory minicamp earlier this month when fines were on the table.
He's currently playing under a significant deal, a four-year, $28.5 million contract with $16 million in guaranteed money that he signed last year.
And Bennett didn't exactly have the courage of his own convictions when talking with NFL Media, calling it "definitely possible" that he'll stay in Hawaii in an attempt to garner a new deal.
"I know a lot of people disagree because I don't put up all the numbers, but if you watch the games, I'm doing good things," Bennett said. "They want me to play five positions but pay me for one."
Versatility is certainly important in today's NFL and the evolution of the game has turned certain defensive nomenclature into antiquated and virtually meaningless terminology.
For instance most observers still use the tired cliche of "3-4" or "4-3" to describe defensive schemes but the truth is nearly every NFL team now uses multiple fronts on any given Sunday and are in nickel or dime packages well over 50 percent of the time.
So having a player like Bennett, who can line up at multiple positions and be rather effective at each, is important, maybe more so than the sack totals that typically define defensive ends. at least when it comes to big money in contract negotiations.
Bennett can slide up and down the line, playing inside or outside depending on the matchup Pete Carroll might like. He's also a well-rounded player, with plus checks marks in both pass rushing and run defense.
So Bennett does a lot of those good things he talked about but the world of NFL finance hasn't really caught up to the innovation on the field.
Take Bennett's new teammate, Jimmy Graham, as an example. When Graham was arguing about money while he was in New Orleans, the Saints wanted to define him as a tight end rather that a receiver because in-line players make much less under the league's franchise- and transition-player tag system.
Even though the metrics say Graham lined up in the slot more than he did as a typical H- or Y-back the back of Graham's football card still reads tight end and as far as the NFL is concerned, he remains a TE despite the empirical evidence to the contrary that says he's more of a receiver, albeit a unique one.
In the end, though, most renegotiations come down to personal relationships and whether or not the organization believes a player is worth keeping happy.
To date Bennett claims there has been no conversations between his agent and the Seahawks, not a surprise because Seattle addressed the Texas A&M product's deal a year ago and the organization is currently engaged in difficult negotiations with the leaders of both its offense, quarterback Russell Wilson, and defense, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
So while money is the biggest issue with Bennett, timing is his biggest obstacle.
And his only option is showing up in Renton or staying home to enjoy the beach.
"Hawaii's weather is great, so I'll just keep it at that," said Bennett. "When the weather's not as nice as it is here, it's harder to make that decision, so it just keeps it in my mind like hopefully something great comes out of it, but I don't mind staying home for a little while."
Staying home will cost Bennett up to up to $30,000 every day, 1/17th of his salary for missing a preseason contest, and an accrued season if he's not there by a date in early August.