Overnight it emerged that the Dallas Cowboys have signed Everson Griffen on a contract worth $6m.
It’s just the latest example of Seattle’s indefensible approach to ‘fixing the pass rush’ — their self-confessed priority for the off-season.
The news emerged on the same day that Pete Carroll revealed Darrell Taylor could be weeks away from making any kind of impression. He’s still recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Senior Bowl and combine.
Carroll also said that Alton Robinson came to training camp overweight.
So let’s review Seattle’s pass rush situation right now. You’ve essentially got Benson Mayowa, a backup level player, as your primary rusher on early downs. He will be complimented, currently, by Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. Bruce Irvin is your SAM who reduces down on passing downs. And they have Branden Jackson.
It’s difficult to imagine Taylor having any impact this year given his health and the fact he might miss training camp, while Robinson is already on the back foot too.
This is a mess — a mess that seemingly wasn’t worthy of a question during Pete Carroll’s press conference yesterday.
Only a week ago Michael Silver touted the possibility of Griffen or Clay Matthews signing in Seattle. Most of his report talked about Jadeveon Clowney though — and we discussed a few days ago how it felt like a final attempt to try and cajole Clowney into a return.
The fact is the Seahawks have been waiting for Clowney for months. They could kind of afford to do it as long as the likes of Griffen remained available. Yet now they’ve lost their security blanket. Clay Matthews, aged 34, is not like Griffen. He’s more of a specialist rusher rather than someone you trot out on first down.
By waiting and waiting for Clowney, they’ve now lost Griffen. Or, for some reason, they simply weren’t willing to pay him the $6m Dallas are — which would be strange given how much they’re paying the likes of Irvin, Jacob Hollister and Cedric Ogbuehi.
Training camp started this week and you could argue even that was a deadline too late. You can’t wait for Clowney forever. Eventually they had to make a call and move on. It would’ve been painful, especially, with Clowney likely still on the market. You can’t risk a player like Griffen signing somewhere else though.
They simply couldn’t afford to go into this season with such a weak looking pass rush. For all the people desperately trying to argue that Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar might create a spike in coverage sacks, let’s get real. You need to be able to rush four against five in the NFL, create mistakes and force pressure on the quarterback. The Seahawks are essentially going to be relying on Mayowa and Green for that.
It will undermine their investment at linebacker and safety if that ends up being the case.
If they weren’t getting Clowney they had to get Griffen. Now, they’ve seemingly been caught out because they waited too long:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 13, 2020
Again, the Seahawks came into the off-season with a self-confessed priority of fixing the pass rush:
They equally made re-signing Jadeveon Clowney a priority:
They did their work at the combine, checked their sources and seemingly came up with a plan to retain Clowney, by offering him less than he expected but perhaps more than anyone else was offering.
Rather than take his time and take the best deal on the table, Clowney refused to play to the tune of any team. He feels he has a certain value and wasn’t going to play for anything less.
Seattle weren’t wrong for focusing on Clowney — clearly the most dynamic, field-tilting defensive lineman on the market — but by putting all their eggs in one basket, they watched other teams add the likes of Dante Fowler, Robert Quinn and Calais Campbell. None received outrageous contracts and all, clearly, could’ve combined to create a reasonable pass rush. As we saw with the two Smith’s in Green Bay a year ago — you don’t need to sign the biggest of the big names to create a pass rush.
With Clowney holding out the Seahawks essentially held out with him. If you’re going to go all-in on a player, you better seal the deal. Otherwise you’ll be caught short — which is exactly what is happening now.
PFF ranked Seattle’s defensive line as the worst in the NFL for a reason. It’s very hard to win a Championship with the worst D-line and pass rush in the league.
So what next?
Clowney could easily see this latest development as a leverage boost. The Seahawks have lost their primary alternative. He might dig-in even more now. And the Seahawks simply don’t have the money to make an attractive offer to him without aggressively restructuring deals for Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett.
They could sign Clay Matthews but again — he’s a complimentary rusher in the twighlight of his career. You already have that in Irvin. The Seahawks need someone who can get after the quarterback on early downs and be the #1 defensive end. They also need options given the chances of Taylor landing on the PUP are increasing.
The big trade for Adams and the recent good news regarding Quinton Dunbar has given people cause for optimism and a welcome distraction from the reality of this off-season. Simply put, the Seahawks have failed their biggest test of 2020 and have now put themselves in a real bind with just weeks to go until the start of the season.
The only way to change that is to somehow get Clowney back in the building. They have to get it done.
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