by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - During a conference call to announce the signing of DE Cliff Avril on Thursday, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider expressed their focus on improving the team's pass rush in free agency.
Apparently the signing of Avril wasn't all Schneider had up his sleeve.
According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the Seahawks have agreed to terms on a one year, $5 million contract with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Michael Bennett.
Bennett began his NFL career with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M. After a strong preseason, he made the 53-man roster during final cut downs but was let go by Seattle shortly after the start of the regular season.
He was claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers and blossomed into one of the top pass rushers in the league. Bennett started all 16 games for Tampa Bay last season and racked up nine sacks and three forced fumbles. He played defense end for Tampa Bay while he had been a defensive tackle in his first stint in Seattle.
"We really wanted to help our pass rush as much as we possibly could," Schneider said. "After that, really just kind of focus on our own guys and see what comes next, see what’s down the line."
With the signings of Avril and Bennett, the Seahawks have added 18 sacks worth of production to the roster. Avril and Bennett were ranked as the two top defensive linemen available in free agency according to ProFootballTalk.com and Seattle signed both of them to really team friendly deals.
With the market proving to be very weak for defensive linemen and cornerbacks especially, Avril and Bennett appear to both have hoped for highly productive short term deals with Seattle with the ability to hit the market again at a young age during a more player friendly market.
Either way, Seattle has made a strong move in free agency to shore up a problem area and, with the addition of WR Percy Harvin, has put themselves in play as a real title contender for next season.