The fifth day of NFL free agency opened with no apparent end in sight to the fate of Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
A report from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle — Clowney is currently training in Houston — basically re-affirmed recent rumblings that Clowney is re-evaluating options while also potentially being willing to wait things out.
“Status quo for Seahawks, free-agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who hasn’t gotten the $20M average per year he’s seeking, per league sources,” Wilson wrote. “Weighing one-year deals after injuries last season, then re-entering market next year when salary cap is expected to rise significantly.”
The cap will rise in part due to the league’s new collective-bargaining agreement, which will give the players at least 48 percent of revenue instead of the current 47 (it could be 48.5 percent depending on if the league has new TV contracts by then). Some offers might also be depressed this year by the fact that the salary cap didn’t go up quite as much as expected this year when it was set last weekend following the passage of the new CBA.
The Seahawks have an offer on the table, but it obviously isn’t at the $20 million range or, it’s easy to conclude, anyway, Clowney would have signed by now.
All indications Thursday were that Clowney might be willing to wait a little while to see if offers will get better, or at least if he gets an offer that would make Seattle have to adjust a little bit, since Clowney would undoubtedly be amenable to staying, all things being equal.
Clowney remains the top-rated free agent who has yet to sign or agree to terms with a team. That he had core-muscle surgery in January and that teams cannot fly him in for a physical due to restrictions because of the coronavirus outbreak is almost certainly a factor.
But what Clowney wanted — a contract to rival those at the top of the defensive end/edge-rush market — might also simply be more than teams want to pay for a player who had three sacks last season and 32 in the five full seasons he has played.
As for who else is interested in Clowney, Tennessee has been consistently mentioned. But several reports have shot down the idea that the Dallas Cowboys are.
As Clowney continued to wait things out and mull things over Friday, another free-agent defensive end suddenly become more of a potential option for the Seahawks: Minnesota’s Everson Griffen.
Griffen opted out of his contract with the Vikings last month, but was known to still be talking with Minnesota and hopeful of staying with the only team for which he has played since coming out of college in 2010.
But Griffen and his agent each announced publicly on Friday that negotiations have ended with the Vikings and that he will be moving on.
In a statement to Tom Peliserro of the NFL Network, Griffen’s agent, Brian Murphy, said: “We have broken off talks with Minnesota because they have to spend their money elsewhere, and we decided to now focus our attention on free agency.”
The Seahawks had already been long-rumored as a potential destination for Griffen in large part because he played for coach Pete Carroll at USC.
And while Griffen will be 33 at the end of next season, he remains one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, having made the Pro Bowl four of the past five years and compiling eight sacks and 24 quarterback hits in 15 games last season, each totals better than any Seahawks player had last year by a wide margin (Clowney had three and 13 in 13 games).
But if Seahawks fans are hoping for a way to get both Clowney and Griffen, early rumblings Friday are that they might have to be content with one or the other.
Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Vikings never made a specific offer to Griffen because of their salary-cap constraints but that Griffen is thought to want $8-10 million a year.
Tomasson also reported that a source said Griffen could wait to see what happens with Clowney, stating: “Source said dominoes will need to fall before Griffen ends up with a new team. A lot will depend on where Clowney signs, and then Griffen could end up being an option B for a team that doesn’t get Clowney.”
If nothing else, that seems to indicate no quick resolution to Griffen’s status.
Seattle can obviously use all the pass-rushing help it can get after managing just 28 sacks last season, with both Carroll and general manager John Schneider saying at the NFL combine last month that improving the pass rush would be a significant priority — if not THE priority — of the offseason.
The Seahawks have made two moves already involving the defensive line, re-signing tackle Jarran Reed to a two-year deal and bringing back Bruce Irvin.
But Seattle needs more, and that Griffen is now more readily available helps in case the Seahawks cannot retain Clowney.
Other pass-rushers who are unsigned include a pair of former Seahawks in Michael Bennett and Benson Mayowa, as well as Clay Matthews (who also played for Carroll at USC and was released by the Rams on Thursday), Markus Golden (10 sacks with the Giants last season), Vinny Curry (five sacks with the Eagles last season) and Kamalei Correa (five sacks with Tennessee), to name a few.