In the continuing countdown of the top 12 players for the Seahawks entering the 2014 season, this man played his way, and danced his way, into stardom.
No. 5: Defensive lineman Michael Bennett: He’s coming off the best season of his career, a year that propelled him into the elite level of defensive linemen.
Bennett signed a one-year deal with Seattle for $5 million in 2013, knowing he needed to come in and prove what he could do. Man, did he ever. Bennett was the best defensive lineman on a team full of good ones.
He finished the regular season with 8.5 sacks, but that doesn’t tell you how relentlessly he played on every snap, never taking a play off when he was on the field.
Bennett was a disruptive force at both end and defensive tackle. He also proved to be one of the most likeable and funniest guys on the team. He told a story during the season about how he pretended to be Russell Wilson while making a reservation on the phone so he could get the best table at an exclusive Seattle-area restaurant.
Bennett fit in better than anyone could have imagined, on and off the field. That’s why the Seahawks made him their top priority as a free agent they wanted to keep.
Contract status: Bennett signed a four-year, 28.5 million deal with the Seahawks, turning down more money to go to Chicago and join his brother, tight end Martellus Bennett. But the Seahawks gave Bennett $16 million in guaranteed money.
Bennett took some criticism from Seattle fans when he said he had no intention of giving a home-team discount. “This isn’t Costco,” he said. But in the end, he did give the Seahawks a bit of discount because he loves Seattle and feels comfortable in the organization.
His new trademark: Bennett now is known as much for his usual celebration dance as he is his playing ability. A national TV audience saw it on "Monday Night Football" when he scored a 22-yard touchdown off a fumble recovery against New Orleans on Dec. 2. But some folks might want to hide the children when Bennett breaks out in his Elvis-like, pelvic-thrust dance that could come with an R-rating.