INDIANAPOLIS -- Since the Seattle Seahawks have decided to make defensive lineman Michael Bennett available via trade, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Atlanta Falcons investigate the asking price.
In fact, it should be expected.
Inquiring about such a deal makes sense, although the ideal scenario would be adding Bennett as a free agent if the Seahawks decide to release him.
In terms of a trade, the Seahawks certainly could use a running back, but the Falcons already made it clear they have no intentions to trade explosive backup Tevin Coleman. However, bolstering the defensive line is one of the Falcons' top offseason priorities, and there's a natural tie when it comes to Bennett. Falcons coach Dan Quinn previously was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in Seattle and spent plenty of time around Bennett. Judging by the warm embrace the two shared when the Falcons last visited Seattle, it's safe to say the relationship remains strong.
Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel was a defensive assistant in Seattle and appears to share a bond with Bennett, based on their pregame interactions.
Not to mention Bennett's agent, Doug Hendrickson, also represents Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Quinn certainly knows how to best utilize Bennett, a guy capable of lining up anywhere along the line and pushing the pocket. What the Falcons need most is a more consistent interior rush, and Bennett could line up next to nose tackle Grady Jarrett while Vic Beasley Jr. and Takk McKinley work off the edges.
Bennett has 54 sacks and is coming off an 8.5-sack season when he was named to the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive year. Some might wonder how much he still has the tank at the age of 32, but coaches around the league certainly believe he can be an impact player. Bennett recorded 23.5 sacks over the past three seasons.
"He's emotional, highly competitive, great get-off, very good pass-rusher," one NFC coach said Thursday. "I think he's a mismatch on the guards. I think he has a couple good years left. I think he still has some juice. And he has that relationship with [Quinn]."
The biggest question marks -- outside of how Bennett might get along with Jake Matthews in the locker room -- would be how much the Seahawks would want in return, how the three years and $21.15 million left on Bennett's contract would fit in the Falcons' tight budget [or if the contract would be restructured], and how Bennett's strong personality and stance on social issues would be accepted by the organization -- specifically team owner Arthur Blank. Veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who led the Falcons in sacks last season and is expected to generate interest in free agency, stood behind his close friend Bennett during Bennett's national anthem protests.
The last time the Falcons traded for a veteran starter, they traded a pair of sixth-round picks to the Tennessee Titans for left guard Andy Levitre. But Levitre isn't the type of impact player Bennett could be.
The upcoming days will tell if the Falcons have any interest in Bennett. With the team moving on from two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe and Clayborn generating interest elsewhere, investigating the Bennett possibility wouldn't be such a stretch.