If all goes well, three weeks from today the Seahawks will begin training camp for the 2020 season.
But it hardly needs stating things are far from normal right now. So as I open the Seahawks mailbag we’ll address a few on-field as well as off-field questions.
A: I know what some (most?) of you are thinking: Not another Jadeveon Clowney item.
But there is some news this week on the Clowney front. First were reports Monday that the Raiders have made an offer to Clowney, though one that was considered as being the third-best he has received.
Tuesday came news that the Browns have restructured the contract of defensive end Olivier Vernon. His contract had called for up to $15.25 million, but not guaranteed. He now gets $11 million guaranteed, basically assuring he will be on the team in 2020.
That’s relevant because the Browns have been thought to be still interested in Clowney — reportedly offering him as much as $17 million at one point — but with the idea that if they did sign Clowney they would release Vernon, both to clear up cap space and create a spot for Clowney to play on the field.
But they aren’t releasing Vernon now, and the general consensus in the wake of the Vernon news was that if the Browns were interested in Clowney, they likely aren’t anymore.
So where does that leave Seattle?
Still waiting in the wings and available to pounce, with the odds likely increasing he plays another year in Seattle with every other option that falls through.
No, Seattle isn’t going to offer Clowney $15-16 million a year or so as it originally did. But the Seahawks can still offer a one-year deal that would allow Clowney to return to a place he feels comfortable and maybe set himself up for another run at free agency in 2021 (with everything these days written with the caveats that things at some point will be normal).
As the news about the Raiders shows, there can always be a wild-card candidate out there lurking in the wings ready to make a run at him. But with the Browns apparently out of the picture, and no other team yet giving Clowney an offer he can’t resist, Seattle can’t be ruled out just yet.
A: As you note, if Antonio Brown is suspended for significant time, then that will greatly impact any contract he would receive — including if he’d even be able to sign one this year, or when.
But assuming he would be cleared at some point and available to play, then undoubtedly any contract he signs will be for one year and for likely not a lot of guaranteed money.
Recall he signed a one-year deal with New England last September after he was cut by the Raiders worth $10.5 million overall, which included a $9 million signing bonus.
It’s hard to imagine he’d get anywhere near that now, no matter how much Russell Wilson might want him (and that Brown has been working out with Wilson, as revealed in videos released last week, seems further proof that Wilson will advocate for Seattle to sign him).
Any deal would likely include heavy incentives based on availability, specifically in per-game roster bonuses. That would obviously be the key thing for Seattle — hoping to assure that Brown would be available to play each week.
The Seahawks aren’t alone in using per-game roster bonuses as a hedge against making sure they are getting as much value out of players as they can, but they have incorporated per-game bonuses heavily into contracts in recent seasons.
This year, both tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker K.J. Wright — veterans with some recent injury history — have $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses (specifically, each gets $46,875 for each game they are on the 53-man roster and on the 46-man roster).
That’s what I think they’d do with Brown — create a contract heavy in incentives for being available.
They might include some performance-based incentives as well. But with someone like Brown, what you’d most worry about is him being available to play, so I think that would be the primary focus of any incentives.
A: A tough question to answer as there remains so much unknown on each, as we still don’t know for sure whether either will be suspended by the NFL.
As widely reported last month, Josh Gordon has applied for reinstatement.
As of this writing, there is nothing new on the Gordon front, though there’s been a general thought it would be decided by the time camps are set to open.
Gordon, recall, violated NFL policies both on substances of abuse and performance-enhancing drugs, and it’s been reported that he will likely have to miss at least the first two games of 2020 to fulfill a six-game PED suspension. The league would then have to decide if he will be further suspended for the other violation. Whether he will is anyone’s guess at this point.
As for Brown, the league is still investigating whether sexual-assault allegations against him show he violated the league’s conduct policy.
It’s easy to assume that the Seahawks will sign whoever is available first and that might preclude signing the other.
Certainly, availability is going to be the key. Both would certainly get only a one-year deal, and Seattle would want whichever player is going to be able to help the most this season. All the unknowns make it hard to predict anything comfortably.
But one thing to keep in mind is that things can change rapidly in an NFL season — and an injury or two at receiver could make Seattle want to sign both, even if at the moment you’d think they’d only need one or the other.
If forced to choose simply from a recent production standpoint you’d pick Brown. But he’ll also likely cost more. And while the hope is that the relationship he has built with Wilson — and also understanding he’s running out of chances — would help smooth out some of what led to his ignominious exits in Pittsburgh and Oakland, there’s probably more risk involved with Brown, as well.
For now, the Seahawks appear consigned to waiting to hear if and or/when either or both will be available.
A: As of now, the NFL is planning on playing a full regular season. Whether there will be fans at games — or how many — is another matter. But none of that has been decided yet.
And needing to be figured out first is the issue of preseason games, which are also included in season-ticket packages.
As of Tuesday, there is nothing definitive on if there will be any preseason games. At the most, there will be two, with each team having one at home and one on the road.
At the least, there won’t be any, which is the preference of the NFL Players Association, which according to a report from the NFL Network views playing the games as an unnecessary risk.
If those games are canceled, then the Seahawks will offer either “a full refund or account credit” according to a list of questions and answers about the 2020 season it has posted on its official website.
That statement also says the team will contact ticket-holders if changes are made.
That statement also says the team will work with season-ticket holders whose ability to pay might be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, stating that they have deferred and flexible payment plans available and also will work with people to create a custom plan, if needed.
As the team’s statement says, the best thing to do may be to contact your account representative. Since almost every ticket sold at CenturyLink Field for a Seahawks game is a season ticket, there’s an account rep associated with basically every ticket. So for really specific questions that’s probably the best place to start.