RENTON — The Seahawks’ long dalliance with Jadeveon Clowney finally over, Seattle coach Pete Carroll finally felt comfortable Monday to shed some light on how the negotiations unfolded.
And his comments essentially confirmed the conventional wisdom of how it went down — that Clowney simply wanted a lot more than Seattle offered early on, that the Seahawks eventually had to move on to take care of other matters, and that from there it was hard for the two sides to find common ground, even though they kept talking to the end.
“I talked to him throughout the process and stayed with him,” Carroll said after practice Monday in a Zoom call with media. “We had really good, amicable conversations about things and he was just waiting the whole time. He had his sights set really high to start with and it just put him in a situation where he had to wait it out, and he didn’t get near the amount that he wanted as it turned out. Our offers and stuff early on didn’t look attractive to him because he had his mindset elsewhere. It was just a pretty normal process, but he just wasn’t ready to make a call early on.”
That jibes with the conventional wisdom that Seattle’s initial offer was a little over $15 million while Clowney wanted something in the $20 million to $21 million range, something he didn’t get from any team (Cleveland’s offer at almost $19 million is thought to be the best he received).
As the Seahawks said around the time of the draft, there became a point a week or so into free agency where they told Clowney they hoped to still keep him but had to begin spending money elsewhere to fill other needs that might impact what they could offer later.
Seattle’s offer at the end was thought to be in the $12 million range. Clowney ultimately took a one-year deal with Tennessee worth up to $15 million with incentives.
“It was a long, long offseason in terms of trying to figure out how that was gonna work out,” Carroll said. “And we were involved throughout, but yet we moved on, for the most part, well early in the offseason so that we can do the rest of the team. And fortunately we were able to do that and got some good players.”
The Saints and Ravens also made strong pushes for Clowney at the end and the general thought is that the Seahawks were mostly an afterthought in his mind over the last day or so.
Carroll, though, said Seattle kept trying, noting that Clowney fired agent Bus Cook near the end.
“We were with him the whole time in the discussion,” Carroll said. “There was a switch of agents in there right near the end and all of that and we were, really, (general manager) John (Schneider) was in on all of it.”
But Carroll also insisted the Seahawks are happy with what they have on the defensive line.
The Seahawks signed veterans Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa — who each began their career in Seattle — to beef up the LEO, or rush-end, spot, the two combining for 15.5 sacks a year ago (Irvin 8.5 with Carolina and Mayowa seven with Oakland). Seattle also drafted Alton Robinson, who has been a standout in camp, and Darrell Taylor, who remains on the non-football injury list, and over the weekend claimed D’Andre Walker off waivers from Tennessee.
Clowney would likely have played more at the strongside end spot, where the Seahawks will for now likely rely mostly on Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier, as well as Damontre Moore, who was signed last week.
And Carroll said he has hopes that tackle Jarran Reed can play more like the player who got 10.5 sacks in 2018 than the one who had just two last year after missing the first six games due to a suspension.
“I sure like our speed on the outside,” Carroll said. “All of our guys have had numbers. They’ve got numbers to bring with them. To bring 16 sacks to us just in Benson and in Bruce, that’s a real positive. Our guys last year didn’t add up anywhere near that. So that’s a positive, and hopefully we can enhance their play. We really would like to see J-Reed come back to his number somewhere (near) what he did a couple years ago. He had kind of a stilted beginning last season. Now that he’s back and he’s in great shape and ready to go, you know, if he can get his numbers anywhere near where he was to add to it we can be in good shape.”
As the moves of the last week — signing Moore and claiming Walker — showed, the Seahawks may not be done adding players to the defensive line, either.
And as Carroll alluded, some of the money the Seahawks earmarked early for Clowney was used to make other moves to help the defense, such as the trades for cornerback Quinton Dunbar and safety Jamal Adams, which figure to vastly improve the secondary and the pass defense as a whole.
After a season in which the Seahawks had just 28 sacks, tied for the second fewest in the NFL, there also may be nowhere to go but up.
“We definitely want to see more activity,” Carroll said of the pass rush. “We want to see a better job done on play-passes and the containment of it and that kind of stuff. We want to give our coverage a chance to make some plays that we missed out on last year. So hopefully we’ll see some of that.”