In the latest Brock and Salk podcast, Brock Huard suggested the reason Jadeveon Clowney hasn’t been signed so far is due to a long-lasting knee issue.
This has clearly impacted his market, on top of Clowney’s own personal demands. Nobody has given him a big contract or even a compromise deal that was sufficient to break the stalemate. According to Jason La Canfora, the much-hyped ‘mega offer’ from Cleveland was only worth $12m a year.
It’s clear teams are interested — they’re just not willing to commit the big money. The Seahawks admitted, many times, that they wanted him back:
They also didn’t move on and sign someone else. They waited for Clowney and clearly wanted to bring him back — only on their terms.
Nobody has ever revealed definitively what the issue is. How much did the Seahawks offer? That’d be a great question to know the answer to.
Without that knowledge we can only speculate. An educated guess would be the following:
— The Seahawks did prioritise Clowney just as they said — but they also perhaps anticipated the lukewarm market that was on the horizon
— Relative to the limited interest elsewhere, they made an offer that was competitive but was also much more modest than Clowney expected
— The idea behind the modest deal was perhaps to protect themselves against the injury situation and presumably they thought after a period of reflection Clowney would could to terms with the situation and re-sign with the team he enjoyed playing for in 2019
— Instead, unexpectedly, he decided not to do this and has instead essentially taken himself off the market and refused to sign for the amounts being offered
— Because of the injury history and the fact we’re now in June and most of the money has been spent, it’s hard to predict what happens next because nobody is going to make a big offer now. Yet what amount is Clowney actually going to agree to?
It’s such a strange situation. I can’t recall anything like this. And as I’ve said before — I don’t think you can really criticise either party for the stalemate. Clowney is well within his rights to say no to any offer he receives and not be ‘forced’ into a deal he doesn’t like. Equally, the team doesn’t have to commit huge sums to a player if the market isn’t there and they have concerns about his longevity.
The criticism comes in Seattle’s inability to draw a line under it and move on. Had they signed, for example, Dante Fowler and Everson Griffen instead — it’d be a lot more understandable than what they’ve done (keep hanging on then try and solve the biggest problem on the team with journeymen).
As noted a few days ago — they only have about $5-6m to play with now. They can create more, either by cutting Branden Jackson or by asking players like Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett to restructure their contracts. For that reason, there’s still some slight hope that Clowney could return albeit on a short-term deal.
They badly need to do something though.
A year ago they went into pre-season with a pass rush consisting of Jacob Martin, Cassius Marsh, Barkevious Mingo and Rasheem Green. L.J. Collier was injured and Ziggy Ansah was still recovering. The unit was inept. The current group is not as weak as their 2019 counterparts. It’s still a major stretch to think Benson Mayowa, Bruce Irvin and a couple of rookies are going to prevent this team having another year of toil and struggle on the defensive line.
They need an impact player. Add one to the current cast and while it still won’t be among the leagues top units — at least there’s half a chance of the pass rush not being a glaring liability again.
In 2019 the Seahawks were bailed out by the Clowney trade. It was a gift. The chances of history repeating are slim.
They might need to be a bit more proactive.
In researching the 2021 draft class so far — it’s not unfair to judge that it looks top heavy. It looks relatively strong at receiver and tight end but weak in the trenches.
You never get a clear picture a year in advance and a full college season is needed to get a proper angle on the depth and talent available. Yet who knows what the 2020 college season is going to be like? Will every team play? Will every player play?
Is it going to be harder to judge the prospects?
It might not be the worst thing in the world for Seattle to use the resource of their top pick in 2021 to try and find a player who can help now. A proven commodity.
We’ve seen big trades happen before and during a season recently. Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jalen Ramsey were all dealt (along with Clowney). The Seahawks essentially need to find their answer to Fitzpatrick. Not a safety per se — just a defensive impact player who can bring the group together.
Fitzpatrick provided a major impact in Pittsburgh. Their defense carried the team while they rotated quarterbacks and scrambled their way from top-five pick to playoff outsiders.
The Seahawks can quickly go from good to great by making a similar addition.
Because of Seattle’s limited cap resources this year, it’ll need to either be someone on a rookie deal in 2020 or someone who can be extended long term to lower their cap hit this year.
The obvious place to start is the franchise tagged players.
It’s hard to imagine the Seahawks targeting Yannick Ngakoue after drafting Darrell Taylor and signing Mayowa and Irvin. They need someone who can play across on the other side. The Jaguars also seem intent on repeating the Earl Thomas mistake — holding onto a player who you intend to part with, asking for too much and in the end having to settle for a third round comp pick.
Matt Judon is similarly only playing in the low 260’s. He also turns 28 this year and arguably doesn’t have the upside to warrant a long, expensive extension.
Leonard Williams and the Giants don’t seem any closer to a new contract. It’s not been a smooth ride for both parties this year and it’s debatable whether he has a long term future in New York. It’s also questionable whether he’s shown enough in his career to warrant an expensive contract to lower his 2020 cap hit.
The name that clearly stands out is Chris Jones. The Chiefs might struggle to fit him into their future given they’ll need to make Patrick Mahomes the richest player in NFL history soon. They’re also tied to Frank Clark’s massive contract for two more years and won’t be in any rush to move on from their top weapons on offense.
Equally, do they really want to trade such a vital player? Jones was a difference maker in the Super Bowl and they could easily believe keeping him for one more year and possibly winning back-to-back Super Bowls is more valuable than getting a high pick in the 2021 draft.
It would also take an enormous contract in the Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald range to sign Jones to an extension. He would have all the leverage in negotiations. He’s exactly the type of player Seattle needs — someone who disrupts the interior, plays well enough against the run and can win games on defense. He only turns 26 in July so he’s at a good age. It’s just hard to imagine the Chiefs parting with him and the Seahawks being prepared to pay him about $23m a year.
In terms of free agents set for 2021, forget about Joey Bosa. He’s a truly elite, star player on a team that needs stars to pay-off the move to LA. With a rookie quarterback in place they could franchise him multiple times if needed. He’s not going anywhere and probably quite likes being close to his brother.
The Packers aren’t going to trade Kenny Clark and the Steelers aren’t letting T.J. Watt or Cameron Heyward go anywhere.
Solomon Thomas hasn’t lived up to expectations and we’re unlikely to see the 49ers help out the Seahawks. Jonathan Allen was supposedly a target for Seattle in the 2017 draft but it’d be a bit surprising to see Washington deal him after investing so much to build up their D-line. He’s the type of player they need, however. There were concerns about a neck injury going into the draft which is why he lasted to #17 overall.
The options aren’t great — which could mean the painful wait for Clowney continues. Suspect knee or not — he’s still the best mix of talent, potential value and impact.
Going into the season without him though — or any further additions other than a cheap stop-gap defensive tackle — would make it very difficult for the Seahawks to take a step forward on defense.
You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.