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Michael Bennett free agency rumors: Bennett likely to leave Buccaneers

Tom Pennington

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will let a free agent walk out the door, as they've done so many times over the past years. The difference this time is that this free agent is actually a good player -- one of the team's best, in fact. Michael Bennett looks increasingly likely to leave the team in free agency, as both the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune produced reports saying as much in recent weeks. The big hurdle: Bennett's asking price.

As arguably the best defensive end on the market, Bennett will demand lots of money. And that may scare off the Buccaneers. But it shouldn't: not only would he be worth a lot of money (though there's always a limit), Bennett would likely play more than enough snaps to justify the investment even if he won't be a nominal starter behind Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers. With his strength in run defense and his ability to be a third-down pass rusher from the defensive tackle position, finding him 70% of all snaps should not prove to be a big problem.

Moreover, the Bucs barely have anything invested in the defensive end position as it is. Adrian Clayborn, Aaron Morgan and Da'Quan Bowers are the only defensive ends on the roster, and they account for just $3,85 million in cap space. That's peanuts, and adding a big contract there would hardly be overburdening one part of the roster at the expense of another.

At least there's one upside to all of this: the Bucs will get the opportunity to match any offers, as we heard from NFLosophy last week. That has now been confirmed by Justin Pawlowski, too.

Apparently, though, the Bucs will only do so when the price is low enough. And that's not too likely to happen.