Michael Bennett, who re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks (which was not a surprising move), was the class of the pass-rush class for 2014. But sometimes the best deals in life are ones not made, and Bennett may turn out to be just that for the Bears.
Bennett’s “ranking” does not automatically place him in the price-is-no-object class that Julius Peppers once occupied. Bennett netted 8.5 sacks last season as a role player, taking 617 snaps in a versatile defense similar to what the Bears will run in 2014, playing both left end and inside.
For purposes of comparison, Corey Wootton produced seven sacks in 582 snaps as a part-time starter at left end in 2012.
But the Bears have been misled by less production than Bennett’s. Mark Anderson posted 12.5 sacks as a situational pass rusher in 2006; when the Bears gave him Alex Brown’s starting job in 2007, he flopped, slipped to five sacks that year and never had more than 3.5 before leaving in 2010.
Reports that the Bears were closing in on Bennett weren’t necessarily wrong. At the outset of free agency 2012, sources confirmed to CSNChicago.com that the Bears were the leaders in the chase for defensive end Mario Williams. But the Buffalo Bills had Williams for a visit first and kept adding money while he added a day, then another, to his visit, and eventually Williams just stayed in Buffalo.
The St. Louis Rams were once waiting eagerly for a chance at Bryan Cox, the premier pass rusher in the 1996 free-agent class and who was visiting Chicago on his tour. The Bears kept shoveling money at Cox and eventually his plane couldn’t take off for St. Louis.