Report: Falcons could be a trading partner with Seahawks for Michael Bennett

The Atlanta Falcons are among the teams interested in trading for Seattle’s Michael Bennett, according to a report Sunday night from ESPN, while also noting that “nothing is imminent.”

It was revealed late last week that the Seahawks were engaging teams in trade talks for Bennett, who has made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons but will turn 33 next November and has battled a slew of nagging injuries the last two seasons, notably plantar fascia and knee issues in 2017.

In fact, it has been rumored for months that the Seahawks could consider just releasing Bennett. (Bennett himself speculated he might not be back on several occasions at the end of last season.)

But instead of releasing Bennett and getting nothing, the Seahawks are attempting to trade him first and get at least something in return, with Seattle likely hoping for draft picks. Seattle has eight picks in the 2018 draft but only one in the first three rounds.

Bennett may not command a pick in the first three rounds given that a team will have to take on his contract, which runs through the 2020 season and includes cap hits of $8.275 million and $10.225 million in 2019 and 2020, meaning any team taking him could be looking at assuming it would have him for only a year or two.

But even an added pick or two on the third day (rounds 4-7) would give Seattle some ammo to potentially trade up into the second day (rounds two and three). Seattle general manager John Schneider said last week at the NFL Combine the team wants to acquire some picks in the second and third rounds after having traded its own away in the Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown trades.

As the ESPN story notes, Atlanta is an obvious potential fit for Bennett since the Falcons’ head coach is Dan Quinn, who was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 — Bennett returned to Seattle as a free agent in 2013 and has been with the Seahawks the last five seasons — and runs a similar defense in Atlanta.

The ESPN story also notes that Bennett’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, also represents Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff, which might ease any Atlanta worries about whether they might be able to restructure Bennett’s contract down the road.

Seattle will save only $2.2 million against the salary cap if it were to trade Bennett and will take a dead cap hit of $5.2 million. Any move involving Bennett is expected to happen by March 18, when he is due a reported $3 million roster bonus.