Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks return for voluntary offseason workouts with Lemuel Jeanpierre but minus Michael Bennett

Most of the Seattle Seahawks returned to team headquarters Monday to begin a voluntary phase one of their offseason workout program.

It was their first time together in Renton since packing up to leave Feb. 3, two days following the Super Bowl.

And a familiar center was there.

The team re-signed Lemuel Jeanpierre on Monday. He’s been Max Unger’s backup the past five seasons.

With Unger gone to New Orleans in last month’s trade that brought star tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle, Jeanpierre’s return after a month in free agency makes him a candidate to be the Seahawks’ starting center.

Jeanpierre started three games there last season, his fifth in the NFL with Seattle, so he knows line coach Tom Cable’s system.

Jeanpierre left the team last summer following an injury settlement for a neck issue. Seattle re-signed him in mid-November, and he became one of four centers to start for the Seahawks in 2014.

But by season’s end Cable was playing recently acquired Patrick Lewis over him in Unger’s absence.

So Lewis appears to be the incumbent with the inside track to Unger’s job for 2015, though it would be a surprise if Seattle didn’t select a center in the draft April 30-May 2.

The sessions that started Monday are officially voluntary workouts. The league’s collective bargaining agreement mandates they can include only strength-and-conditioning workouts and physical rehabilitation.

So there’s not much reason to get riled up about Michael Bennett reportedly not attending.

The defensive end signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract with $16 million guaranteed before last season.

Bennett isn’t totally happy with that deal now that the market continues to skyrocket past his year-old agreement.

Asked April 9 on Seattle’s KIRO 97.3-FM radio if he was content with his contact, the disruptive force that spent much of last season in opponents’ backfields said: “I can’t really say that. I mean, I don’t know anybody that’s happy with the amount of money that they’re making. But at this point I’m just trying to be a good Seahawk.”

General manager John Schneider made it clear last summer with running back Marshawn Lynch that he won’t re-negotiate a contract that still has more than a year remaining on it.

If he did, the GM explained a couple months ago, he’d have a line of guys almost constantly outside his office door wanting new deals.

What Schneider has shown a willingness to do is move existing contract money around and reload guarantees up front.

That’s what he did for Lynch to get him to report to 2014 training camp one week into it.

That could be what Bennett is trying to angle for. Skipping voluntary weight lifting is a way to do it without getting fined.

Tuesday, the league will announce the 2015 regular-season schedule.

It’s possible the Seahawks’ opener could be a prime-time rematch of the NFC championship on Sept. 13 or 14 at Green Bay.

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