The hope was that the Seattle freeze — when it came to the Seahawks’ stalemate with Jadeveon Clowney, anyway — was finally thawing.
On Tuesday, the Seahawks made some long-anticipated moves to cut/waive tight end Ed Dickson and safety Tedric Thompson, creating $5.1 million in cap space.
Then early Wednesday came a report that Clowney had dropped his asking price from $20 million a year (or more) to $17-18 million a year.
And it was tempting to think that maybe the two moves were related and the Seahawks and Clowney were finally about to meet somewhere in the middle and end his two week-plus sojourn into free agency.
But then on Wednesday night came the news that Seattle was bringing back defensive end Benson Mayowa, a sign that if nothing else, the Seahawks weren’t just saving up all that cap space and waiting to give it all to Clowney.
And by Thursday morning came a few more reports that not only was nothing imminent and Clowney was still willing to wait things out for weeks, if not months, but that maybe nothing much had really changed at all when it comes to Clowney and Seattle other than the team’s desire to begin filling out its defense and pass rush no matter what decision Clowney ends up making.
Here’s an attempt to further answer some of the most relevant questions about where things stand now.
Q: So, where do things stand with Clowney?
A: Based on a few reports — and a few talks with some around the league — the odds may be even longer now than they were a few days ago that Clowney re-signs with the Seahawks. Certainly, nothing appears ready to happen anytime soon, which means the Seahawks may have to load up on more defensive ends to make sure they are covered just in case Clowney doesn’t re-sign.
ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Thursday that her understanding is the Seahawks don’t think Clowney “is quite ready to make a decision’’ and felt they could wait no longer to make additions to their pass rush, which led to the decision to sign Mayowa. Her report further stated the addition of Mayowa “could adjust budget for possible Clowney return,’’ indicating that if anything, what the Seahawks could be willing to pay Clowney might now be less than it was before.
And former Seahawk Dave Wyman, also the analyst on the team’s radio broadcasts, said he thinks the signing of Mayowa is a sign that the team may be moving on from Clowney while noting that he doesn’t think the team is necessarily actively negotiating with Clowney, instead having given him an offer that he can either accept or not.
“I think that might be an indication that they are not able to get him,” Wyman said of Seattle’s signing of Mayowa, adding that the Seahawks’ offer to Clowney is “a take it or leave it type of deal.” That’s in keeping with what has been the Seahawks’ stance in recent years of setting a value on a player and then not wavering from it.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network added to what was quickly becoming a consensus opinion Thursday by saying that Clowney “is in no rush” and that “he is more than willing to wait, not just a couple weeks but maybe longer until he gets the right deal that he is seeking.”
Q: And what is Seattle’s offer?
A: While one early report from SI.com stated Seattle was offering up to $18.5 million a year, others have indicated Seattle’s offer is more in the $13-15 million a year range (the latest to report that is NFL insider Tony Pauline on his ProFootballNetwork.com podcast Thursday).
If Clowney indeed wants $17-18 million still and Seattle is in the $13-15 million range but not wanting to budge, then this appears to remain at a stalemate.
And that obviously could speak to why Clowney’s side may have been behind (or, was almost certainly behind) the report earlier in the week that he’s dropped his asking price some, hoping to get some other teams involved.
Q: How much cap space does Seattle have and is it enough to still make a deal with Clowney work?
A: As this is written, the contracts for both Mayowa and Bruce Irvin have yet to be processed. But the assumption is that the Seahawks have around $8 million or so once those come through. However, Seattle also has to pay its draft picks out of that — which at the moment would be around $7 million.
But Seattle can create cap space if it wants by cutting players (Justin Britt would save $8.5 million) or renegotiating or restructuring contracts.
And this has never been about cap space, per se. Seattle has always had the cap space it needed to fit in Clowney — if he were willing to sign at the price the Seahawks wanted. That’s the issue — the two sides agreeing on what Clowney’s value is — not whether the Seahawks have the cap space to make it work.
Q: So, what is Clowney’s market anyway?
A: The general managers of two teams long thought interested in Clowney — the Titans and Jets — each said during conference calls Wednesday they had been in touch with Clowney’s representatives.
The Titans, though, have signed edge rushers Vic Beasley and Kamalei Correa during free agency so it’s unclear how avidly they would pursue Clowney. The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off a 7-9 season, and Clowney has said he wants to go to a contender. The Browns have also been mentioned as a possibility, but Cleveland also doesn’t necessarily fit the the profile of being a contender, unless maybe Clowney were to think all the young talent there is ready to finally mature.
Intriguingly, NFL insider Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com said on his podcast Thursday said “there’s some stuff that’s been going on’’ with Clowney’s negotiations that he wasn’t yet ready to detail while indicating that there may be more teams involved than has been thought.
Meanwhile, Albert Breer of SI.com noted that not only is Clowney’s injury history is an issue with teams — and the fact that he can’t take physicals at team sites right now with travel prohibited because of the COVID-19 outbreak — but also that “he clashed with coaches in Houston.’’ The combination of those two things, Breer wrote, is “a lot to pair with his financial demands.’’
Clowney is said to be surprised and disappointed in the offers he has gotten, with some in the league noting this is the first time he has encountered this type of scenario. Clowney was essentially the top recruit in the nation coming out of high school in 2011 and then the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft three years later, and then the subject of some fevered trade talks last year when he essentially forced his way out of Houston.
Clowney had undoubtedly gone into free agency expecting that this would be no different and he would get a monster deal that would reach, or get close to, the $100 million range in overall value.
Having to accept a reality in which that almost certainly isn’t going to happen may not come easily. But hoping that it may still also could compel Clowney to dig in his heels a little longer, with some wondering if he’d willing to be wait until the summer, when he might be able to take physicals with teams.
For now, the wait continues.