When the Seattle Seahawks signed free agent defensive end Michael Bennett to a one-year deal worth around $5 million, most assumed the bargain signing was due to a depressed free agent market that has been downright brutal on cornerbacks, defensive tackles and defensive ends.
Turns out, Bennett's discount was due, in part, to a torn rotator cuff, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
As noted by ESPN's Mike Sando, Bennett appeared on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' injury reports with a shoulder injury throughout the 2012 season. Bennett did not miss a game in 2012, logging 88.68 percent of the Buccaneers' defensive snaps, according to official playing-time data.
There is virtually no chance the Seahawks were not aware of the injury when they signed Bennett.
Had Bennett or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, not disclosed the injury prior to the signing, the Seahawks could release Bennett with the relatively new "Failure to Disclose Physical Condition" designation - that was created (and frequently used) in the 2012 season - and attempt to recoup the signing bonus. An example of this designation was the New England Patriots release of defensive end Jonathan Fanene and their subsequent, ongoing pursuit of $2.5 million, the upfront portion of his $3.85 million signing bonus.
Rosenhaus has struck several deals with the Seahawks' front office and is unlikely to jeopardized that relationship by not disclosing Bennett's rotator cuff injury.
Proof that the Seahawks were aware of Bennett's injury situation is reflected in the contract.
According to a source with knowledge of the details, Bennett received a $1.5 million signing bonus and a $3 million base salary, which is guaranteed. Bennett can earn $200,000 in incentives tied to sacks and has $300,000 in "per game active" roster bonuses, valued at $18,750 each. Unlike their NFC West rivals in San Francisco, the Seahawks do not regularly use "per game active" roster bonuses as part of their contracts. In fact, Bennett is currently the only player on the Seahawks' roster who has a contract that includes "per game active" roster bonuses, which shows that the team knows there's a possible reason to suspect Bennett might not play a full slate of games in 2013.