Day 6 of the NFL free-agent signing period opened Saturday morning with seemingly promising news for the Seahawks — a report from Pro Football Talk that the team was “moving toward a new deal” with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
But almost before the ink on that report dried came another from PFT, positing that maybe the “chatter on the NFL grapevine” of a pending deal had been spurred by Clowney’s camp to try to drum up more interest in him from other teams around the league.
And by Saturday afternoon, there was still no resolution to Clowney’s status, and it was unclear how quickly a decision might arrive.
Still, the PFT report indicated that maybe there is some urgency coming from Seattle’s side to get something done, and that Clowney’s side — knowing that at some point the Seahawks might have to move on — might be making one last attempt to see if there’s interest elsewhere.
What’s known for sure is that Seattle has an offer — or maybe offers — out to Clowney and that the Seahawks have made it clear to him that they want him to stay.
What’s also known for sure is that the Seahawks’ offer — or offers — is not what Clowney had hoped it would be (in the $20 million-a-year range), thus the holding pattern this has been in for a while now and the willingness of Clowney and agent Bus Cook to wait a little and see what else might develop.
What’s not known is exactly what Seattle has offered, with several reports surfacing in the last 24 hours or so providing differing numbers.
An SI.com report stated Seattle had offered Clowney $18.5 million per season. But that was contradicted by a few other reports, including one passed along by former Seahawks QB Jake Heaps, who now works for ESPN 710 Seattle, stating that the Seahawks’ offer was for $13 million and that teams are offering in the $13-14 million range. That report came initially from ThePick6.com, with Heaps writing on Twitter that he had “verified” the source and found it credible. Heaps further stated he thinks the deal will be in the $15-16 million range.
That led to the idea that maybe Seattle has a couple different offers out to Clowney: one a long-term deal that might average $17-18 million a year but has a smaller cap hit in Year One before growing in the following years when the salary cap is expected to expand greatly (in part due to the new collective-bargaining agreement) and would include smaller guarantees; and the other offer a short-term deal with a smaller number but one that would be fully guaranteed.
A one-year deal, though, wouldn’t be optimum for Seattle since it would almost certainly mean a bigger cap in 2020 since it could not be spread out over multiple years. But a one-year deal would allow Clowney to hit the free-agent market again next year at age 28 and when teams might have a lot more money to spend, though with the gamble of staying healthy and productive for another full season.
The Seahawks are listed with roughly $18.2 million in cap room for 2020, but that does not include three free agents the team agreed to terms with last week, including defensive end Bruce Irvin, expected to have received a one-year deal in the $3-4 million-a-year range, nor offensive lineman Brandon Shell (reported at two years, $11 million).
Seattle, though, can also create cap room with any number of possible moves, including cutting tight end Ed Dickson ($3 million), safety Tedric Thompson ($2.1 million, and a player that the team floated last week was available for trade) and center Justin Britt (a possible $8.5 million in cap savings, though his deal could be restructured, as well).
Seattle has made no cap-cutting moves yet, with one thought being that the team is simply waiting to make any until needed.
As noted, a few contracts that have been agreed to, such as Irvin’s, have yet to be processed with the NFL prohibiting team officials or players from flying, putting a hold on some league activities.
That might be playing a particular role in the Clowney situation due to his known health issues — he had surgery to repair a core-muscle injury in January — and the inability of teams to fly him in for a physical. Teams can have access to a physical done by a neutral physician, but teams are reportedly leery of depending on that, and all the more so with a player making a significant salary.
Seattle, though, knows Clowney’s injury situation better than any team and is obviously comfortable enough with it to have offered him a deal, if not what he had been hoping for.
Clowney, who is said to be in Houston, is reportedly willing to be patient.
But at some point, the Seahawks will also have to move on and make sure they don’t miss out on other options to beef up their pass rush, notably former Viking Everson Griffen (who announced Friday he will not re-sign with the team and is thought possibly available for $8-10 million or so) and maybe Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue (who has received a franchise tag but is known to be available for a trade, if at a hefty price).
One report Friday indicated Griffen might wait to see what happens with Clowney before making a decision. And it’s worth noting, many of the top rush ends are already off the market, so Seattle could still sign some of those who remain and still wait on Clowney.
As for who else might be interested in Clowney? There has been increasing speculation that Tennessee could be a serious suitor. The Titans have been connected with Clowney for a while. And while Tennessee did agree to terms with free agent Vic Beasley, Tennessee still has plenty of cap room, listed as having roughly $35 million and having already re-signed QB Ryan Tannehill and putting a franchise tag on tailback Derrick Henry.
The Colts, who entered the day with $45 million in cap space (but without accounting for newly-signed QB Philip Rivers) have also been mentioned.
For now, the wait continues.