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Michael Bennett not returning to the Vikings

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Michael Bennett told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that the Vikings have decided against bringing him back in 2006.

"They told my agent they're going in another direction, so I won't be coming back," Bennett said in a phone interview. "It's disappointing, because you felt you established yourself there and you wanted to be one of those guys who stayed with a team throughout his whole career. But it didn't work out for me."

What in the world was it that Bennett thought he had established? In five seasons, he topped 500 yards just twice, and not once since 2002. He was rarely healthy, and when he was he failed to distinguish himself from the likes of Moe Williams, Onterrio Smith and Mewelde Moore.

Williams is an unrestricted free agent and Smith could be reinstated after serving a one-year suspension. If Smith does in fact return and the team fails to sign any other free agents, he has to be considered the favorite, though Ciatrick Fason would offer competition. The Pioneer Press indicated that the Vikings are expected to aggressively pursue filling their need at this position in free agency.

There were rumors last season that Bennett could be traded to the Cardinals, in part because of Dennis Green's familiarity with the speed back. But even if that ends up being the case, don't plan on Bennett being anything more than a No. 3 fantasy back, if that.

Bennett: 'I won't be coming back' [St. Paul Pioneer Press]