Oh yeah, we can tell it's free agency season now. The rumors and reports are flying and contradicting each other at every point. Just hours after Michael Bennett said on 98.7 The Fan with the Gary and the Commish Show that he would give the Buccaneers the opportunity to match any offer, Pro Football Talk is now denying it. Yeah. Good fun this.
There's only one source who could say such a thing to Pro Football Talk, of course, and that's Bennett's agent trying to perform some damage control. Because that opportunity to match may scare off some teams. Besides, why wouldn't they give the Bucs the chance to match? Isn't that what the whole open market is for -- to drive up your price through competition?
Still, it's starting to look more and more like a done deal that Bennett is moving on. The Bucs have pushed forward Da'Quan Bowers as a starter, despite his legal problems, and they'll get Adrian Clayborn back on the other side. Given that, they don't want to pay Bennett big money, which I think is a mistake. Even as a non-starter you can find 70 snaps in a game for this guy, relieving Clayborn and Bennett and playing as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in nickel packages.
Bennett could be very valuable in Tampa, but the Bucs are going to let their most productive defensive lineman walk. This, quite simply, looks like a huge mistake. On the other hand, not paying Bennett would give them more leeway in free agency. And given the fact that they've been linked to finding two starting cornerbacks and a starting safety in free agency, they need quite a bit of cap room.