Michael Bennett is “freeing” himself from the National Football League.
The veteran defensive end, who most recently played for the Dallas Cowboys, announced his retirement Tuesday after 11 seasons. Bennett took to Instagram to deliver the news.
Retiring feels a little like death of self, but I’m looking forward to the rebirth – the opportunity to reimagine my purpose.
I would like to thank my wife and children, who have sacrificed so much for me to succeed. I’m looking forward to supporting them the same way they have me these past 11 years. I have never been more at peace in my life.
As the great Toni Morrison said: “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.“
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Months in the Making
Bennett admitted last November, in his first public address after joining the Cowboys, that he’d cracked the door to walk away from the game. To further the possibility, he restructured his 2019 contract in order to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
“I don’t know. This could be my last year in the NFL,” Bennett told reporters following Dallas’ 28-24 loss to the Vikings, per The Athletic. “Could be thinking about what’s the best thing for my family, what’s the best thing healthwise and my future. Just take it one game at a time, one year at a time.”
The 34-year-old’s incentive to outlast Father Time wasn’t strong. Bennett collected nearly $60 million in career earnings, played in three Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl across 11 professional seasons — six with the Seattle Seahawks, three with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one with the Philadelphia Eagles, and half-year stints with the Cowboys and New England Patriots.
The Cowboys acquired Bennett from the Patriots last October for a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft pick. He tallied four sacks in six appearances, chipping in 11 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits.
Bennett, who drew no known free-agent interest, told the New Yorker that he was mulling retirement before the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on pause. Quarantining with his family finalized the decision, he affirmed.
One of the more disruptive interior defenders of the past decade, Bennett hangs up his cleats the owner of 338 tackles (132 TFLs), 193 QB hits, 69.5 sacks, and 13 forced fumbles.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL