Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have let Michael Bennett leave in free agency, a move I still do not understand. But it has happened, and the reasons are starting to leak out. Let's start with the insane one, shall we? The Buccaneers thought Michael Bennett was too small and that kept him from being healthy, per Pewter Report. The word"overachiever" (that's a bad thing?) was also dropped. But hey it's not like this guy was one of the best run defenders as a base 4-3 end in the NFL last year, or that they repeatedly played him at defensive tackle. Size issues? While Bennett has had small nicks, every NFL player develops those, and it didn't stop him from being very effective last season.
The other reason: the Buccaneers want to give Da'Quan Bowers a lot of playing time, according to the Tampa Bay Times. This is very understandable: Bowers has looked very talented when on the field, and took some massive strides last season despite never being 100%. The Bucs thought Bennett would be a backup, and they didn't want to pay a backup starter money. Again: that sounds reasonable.
But when you dig a little deeper, it stops being reasonable. Bowers and Bennett both play left end and are direct competitors, but no defensive lineman can consistently play every snap. More importantly, Bennett also looked outstanding rushing from a defensive tackle position, which would give him a lot more snaps. Combine that with the fact that he and Bowers can both play right end, where they could spell Clayborn coming off a knee injury, as well as the lack of depth on the team, and you could easily see Bennett playing close to 70% of all defensive snaps. Or, about as much as a starter does.
Letting Bennett walk out the door was foolish, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Michael Bennett himself sounds a little like a hurt ex-girlfriend discussing the issue with the Tampa Tribune.
"I just didn't feel any love from them at all,'' Bennett said. "And that's kind of disappointing, because for a team that you put everything you had into for four years to do that, you're just kind of, 'OK, whatever.'
"You do everything you can to grow as a player and get better as a player and you prove yourself over and over again for them, but I guess that's just who they are.''
That's who the Bucs are. I guess that door isn't opening again any time soon.