Expect news of the Eagles parting with Vinny Curry to drop at any moment now.
He was so much improved against the run this year, a Super Bowl champion and legit contributor to a historic Eagles season.
We all knew that his cap hit, relative to overall performance, was going to make him an offseason casualty. Brandon Graham is locked in on the other side of the line and Derek Barnett is waiting in the wings– a guy who I thought would come straight into the starting lineup after Curry was moved.
Instead, Howie Roseman did it again, bringing in Pro Bowl defensive end* Michael Bennett, according to Adam Schefter and about 25 other people.
That means your defensive line now looks like this:
- Brandon Graham
- Fletcher Cox
- Tim Jernigan
- Derek Barnett
- Michael Bennett
- Chris Long
- (Beau Allen is a free agent)
Looks like…. a pretty nasty group if you ask me.
Anyway, the reason for the asterisk above is that Bennett plays some interior line, too. Not only is he a superb edge rusher, but he can move inside on obvious passing downs, allowing the Eagles to run a configuration that looks like this:
Barnett —- Cox —— Bennett —— Graham
You saw the Birds do a bit of that this year, when Chris Long would line up at d-end and Graham would play tackle. You probably don’t remember this play from the awful Oakland game, but the Eagles “vertically challenged” and drew a holding call on a third and ten:
Wanna see another example where this worked a lot better?
That’s the kind of stuff you can do with Bennett. You can play him as an end in your base package, then move him around in sub packages for various situations. In that sense, he can address the Allen departure as well as the pending Curry move, which allows Barnett to increase his role on the team (420 snaps last year) without suffering stunted growth.
Bennett is 32, so there’s certainly some wear on the tires, but you wouldn’t know it by performance. He’s only missed five games in his last six seasons and continues to put up stellar numbers:
Mmmm… 23.5 sacks in three years. That sounds good. I think I’ll have that.
Bennett gets to the quarterback and is big enough to do a bit of run stuffing while being able to line up pretty much anywhere on the line.
On this play, he starts on the interior in a stunt move and gets to Aaron Rodgers:
— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) September 10, 2017
And on the outside he’s got the strength to bull rush offensive tackles:
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) May 10, 2017
He really is a perfect fit for a fluid Jim Schwartz defense that rotates defensive linemen and moves guys around.
As far as the salary goes, Bennett is due the following:
- 2018: $1.65m
- 2019: $6m
- 2020: $7.5m
I’m not a cap wizard, but it looks like he has a $4m roster bonus for this season, so you’re looking at him counting $5.7m against the cap.. I think. You would still save a bit in the exchange with Curry while eating $6m dead cap for his release.
Obviously you can then try to restructure next year based on how he does in 2018, but it looks like Howie is just going for it here, trying to keep the foot down on the throat of 31 other NFL teams.
In that vein of thought, consider this:
Eagles traded a 7 and Matt Tobin to Seattle for a 5. Seattle than traded a 7 and Michael Bennett for a 5 and Marcus Johnson.
The Eagles basically traded Matt Tobin and Marcus Johnson for Michael Bennett, lol.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) March 7, 2018
Bennett has had some “character stuff” pop up in the past, depending on how you define “character stuff.” There an incident this season where he torpedoed an offensive lineman during a victory formation:
The Falcons are in trade talks with Seattle for Michael Bennett. Here is why I will never root for Michael Bennett. The Falcons are making a huge mistake. pic.twitter.com/AoYqmEFjyT
— Hotlanta Highlights (@HotlantaHlights) March 5, 2018
He was also involved in a summer incident where he claimed he was racially profiled by Las Vegas police. That was disputed by the department after an investigation was completed.
You can read up on that yourself.
Bennett also raised a black power fist during a sack celebration and stands on the Colin Kaepernick side of the national anthem issue, something that shouldn’t really bother anybody considering that Malcolm Jenkins exhibits similar thoughts and actions. Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles have been very open to expression on that matter, and it certainly did not affect anything that happened on the field this season. The Eagles seem to have a very functional locker room and a stable culture down at NovaCare, so I think any concerns about Bennett as a person have to be considered within that framework.