SEATTLE -- The Seahawks' long-rumored offseason of change began in earnest Wednesday when they traded defensive end Michael Bennett and a seventh-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth-round pick and receiver Marcus Johnson, according to reports from ESPN and the NFL Network.
The Seahawks had no immediate confirmation of the trade as the move cannot become official until March 14, when the new league year begins. But a league source confirmed the news of the trade to the Seattle Times.
The Seahawks have been rumored to be shopping Bennett for a week or so as they look to make over their team following a 9-7 season in 2017 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
General manager John Schneider confirmed that the team could be in for a heavy facelift when he said last week at the NFL combine that the team had no untouchables, and the first domino to fall in what could be some significant change is Bennett, whose arrival in 2013 as a free agent helped set the stage for the team's only Super Bowl title a few years later.
Bennett immediately became the heart and soul of the team's defensive line, making the Pro Bowl each of the last three years, and earning two significant contracts with the team.
But Bennett, who will turn 33 next November, has also battled a succession of injuries the past few seasons, playing through plantar fascia and knee injuries in 2017 and missing five games due to arthroscopic knee surgery, and it's thought the team was worried his play had begun to decline. Bennett has also long been one of the most influential voices in the team's locker room, and the Seahawks are also thought to prefer to shift the defensive leadership to other players, such as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Bennett has three years remaining on his contract, and the Seahawks will save $2.2 million against the salary cap in 2018 with his departure.
Johnson, in his second year out of Texas, caught five passes last season for the Eagles. He did not play in the playoffs as the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl. He ran a reported 4.42 coming out of college and the Seahawks were undoubtedly looking to add a speedy receiver with the possibility that Paul Richardson -- who will be a free agent beginning March 14 -- may not return.
Bennett was due a reported $3 million roster bonus on March 18 so it was clear something would have to happen soon.
Bennett himself started the rumors that the 2017 season might be his last in Seattle when he speculated several times of having an uncertain future.