While the Jadeveon Clowney watch continued into its third week Wednesday, the Seahawks made another move to shore up their ailing pass rush, a move that also showed they are eager to complete the task of filling out their defensive line regardless of what Clowney decides.
And they did so by again calling back a member of their 2013 Super Bowl team — Benson Mayowa.
Mayowa, 28, agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Seahawks on Wednesday afternoon, as confirmed by his agent, David Canter. The NFL Network reported the deal includes $3 million fully guaranteed and could go over $4 million with incentives.
Two weeks ago, the Seahawks agreed to terms to bring back another player from that Super Bowl-title team, Bruce Irvin, to try to jump-start a pass rush that was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2019. Irvin, who played for Seattle from 2012-15, also agreed to a one-year deal though contract terms have yet to be revealed.
Each are players who have substantial experience not only playing in the Seahawks’ system but also with other teams who run a similar defense (Mayowa, like Irvin, was with the Raiders when current Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., was there).
Mayowa is coming off maybe his best NFL season with a career-high seven sacks last year in 15 games in just 302 snaps, per Pro Football Reference. Just as the 8.5 sacks that Irvin had with Carolina, that’s a total that dwarfs anyone on Seattle’s roster a year ago. Rasheem Green led the Seahawks with four and Clowney had three.
And the 15.5 that Mayowa and Irvin had is more than half of the 28 that the Seahawks had as a team, a total that tied for the second-fewest in the league (only Miami had fewer, with 23).
Mayowa made the Seahawks roster in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Idaho, catching the team’s eye with his performance as a tryout player at rookie minicamp.
But playing behind a stacked defensive line on one of the better defenses in NFL history, Mayowa saw little playing time, with just 24 snaps in two regular-season games, making two tackles.
His appearances in 2013 came in the first two games when Irvin was sitting out a suspension and the Seahawks were waiting for Chris Clemons to get healthy following a knee injury. Mayowa did not play in any of the three playoff games that season though he was on the 53-man roster for the entire year.
He was waived in the roster cutdown to 53 players before the 2014 season and claimed by the Raiders, spending two years in Oakland, two more in Dallas and one with Arizona before returning to Oakland last year.
While he has never been a full-time starter, he has made an increasing impact in recent seasons with six sacks with Dallas in 2016, four with Arizona in 2018 and a career-high seven last season.
The signing of Mayowa — especially at $3 million a year — doesn’t preclude the Seahawks from re-signing Clowney.
Indeed, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that “the door isn’t closed in Seattle on Jadeveon Clowney, but they couldn’t wait any longer to start adding potential replacements.”
It’s worth wondering if Mayowa’s signing was meant as a message to Clowney, who it was reported earlier in the day is lowering his contract demands from $20 million a year to the $17-18 million a year range, that the team will move on without him, if necessary.
The Seahawks knew they were beginning to run out of options to fill out the rush end spot as there had begun to be a run on the free agents remaining with the likes of Adrian Clayborn (Browns) and Kamalei Correa (re-signing with Titans) agreeing to deals in the last day.
The Seahawks, earlier in free agency, re-signed tackle Jarran Reed, and they return the likes of Green, 2019 first-round L.J. Collier and Branden Jackson (who was tendered as a restricted free agent) at the end spots while also having lost tackle/end Quinton Jefferson as well as tackle Al Woods.
The Seahawks had just two members of the Super Bowl team on their defense last year — linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright — but adds two more in Mayowa and Irvin. They could have six members of that team on the roster this year with the four defensive players joining quarterback Russell Wilson and tight end Luke Willson, who is a free agent and tweeted last month he was expecting to return in 2020.