With a little bit of a lull in the Seahawks action (Jadeveon Clowney and otherwise), it’s time to answer a few questions.
The first is a compilation of one a few asked via e-mail and elsewhere, the others are Twitter questions.
Q: What are the Seahawks’ plans for Benson Mayowa?
A: Mayowa agreed to terms Wednesday to return to the Seahawks, the team with which he got his start as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Idaho in 2013. Mayowa agreed to a one-year deal reported to be worth $3 million guaranteed with incentives that could take it to $4 million or more.
That Mayowa isn’t the biggest name in the world — even some hardcore Seahawks fans may not have a great memory of his original stint with the team since he played in only two games — led to the immediate general thought that he’s a complementary piece or a rotational player.
But the Seahawks might think differently.
They’ve always liked Mayowa. They tried to get him back at least once in the six years since he’s been gone playing with the Raiders (who claimed him off waivers from Seattle in 2014), Arizona, Dallas and then back to the Raiders.
And they might think that at only age 28 — but with seven years in the NFL — he might be about to hit his prime, having made a career-high seven sacks last season.
In fact, one comparison I heard is to another edge rusher who came to Seattle with not a lot of fanfare at the time — Chris Clemons.
When Seattle traded for Clemons in March 2010, he was coming off a stretch in which he’d had just seven sacks in two seasons, and more than four in his career just once in five NFL seasons.
Clemons, in fact, had 20 career sacks at that point in 68 career games.
Mayowa, likewise, has 20 career sacks, though in 87 games, but 17 in his last 57.
Sacks obviously aren’t everything. But Mayowa showed well in 2019 in 15 games with the Raiders in some more advanced metrics, too. As Alistair Corp of Field Gulls noted, Mayowa had the 21st-best pressure rate of all defensive ends with 200 or more pass rushes last year, according to Sports Info Solutions, and was one of just 12 defensive ends in the NFL to have a pressure rate of 12 percent or better and seven or more sacks.
The trade for Clemons was pretty widely criticized at the time as Seattle gave up the popular Darryl Tapp to get him while also getting a fourth-round pick (which turned into defensive end E.J. Wilson, who didn’t last long).
Clemons had played several different spots during his two years with the Eagles, but the Seahawks decided to use him almost solely as the LEO, or rush end.
Clemons responded with one of the best three-year runs of sacks in team history with 11, 11 and 11.5 in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and he also had an underrated game in the Super Bowl win over Denver with two forced fumbles and a sack.
Mayowa last year was indeed something of a complementary player with the Raiders, on the field for just 302 snaps. And the devil’s-advocate view of his sack numbers last year with the Raiders is that they all came within the first eight games of the season.
Mayowa’s playing time, in fact, decreased pretty significantly down the stretch in part due to the emergence of rookie Maxx Crosby, who finished with 10 sacks (he also missed one game with a knee injury and that might also have played a role).
But seven sacks are seven sacks no matter when and how they are achieved — and it’s three more than any Seahawk had last year (Rasheem Green) and a fourth of the total Seattle had as a team (28, which tied for second-fewest in the NFL).
The Seahawks, of course, need more than just a 2013 reunion party (having also agreed to terms to bring back Bruce Irvin) to revive the pass rush. They still need to add at least one significant veteran (ideally one of Clowney or Everson Griffen), at least one in the draft, continued progress from Green, maybe a more substantial role for Shaquem Griffin, and hopefully a breakthrough from 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier.
But the Seahawks appear to have high hopes that Mayowa could well take a Clemons-like step in his play as he returns to the city where he got his NFL start.
And maybe it was just a mistake, but his agency seemed to foreshadow its own hopes that maybe a Mayowa/Clemons comparison will make sense in a few years. In announcing via Twitter that Mayowa had reached agreement with the Seahawks Wednesday, DEC Management used a photo of Clemons.
A: The NFL actually provided updates on a number of items Tuesday, including stating that the league expects the season to start on time. The league also announced that it is monitoring the situation with the international games but for now has made no decisions to not play them in 2020.
As for the schedule release, the league did announce that it will likely come somewhat later than it has in past years. In past years the schedule has typically been released in mid-April. This year, the league said it will be released no later than May 9, but with indications that sometime in that first week or so of May is when it will be released.
However, that change is thought not to have been made because of COVID-19. Instead, there has been a growing thought the league would want to wait until after the draft (April 23-25) to create the best TV matchups possible. There are obviously a lot of rookie quarterbacks who could be interesting to watch this season, and the NFL appears to want to make sure it can properly highlight them.
The one thing moving the schedule release back some will do is assure that the NFL keeps itself in the news for a while. With the draft and then the schedule a few weeks after that, there will be a steady flow of NFL stuff to talk about for the next 5-6 weeks or so. By then, maybe there will also be some light at the end of the tunnel to everything else going on.
A: Pete Carroll is about Always Compete and all that, so I don’t rule it out completely. But it’s obviously not really the plan with Diggs and Bradley McDougald each back and under contracts that pay them fairly significant salaries in 2020 — McDougald has a $5.4 million cap hit and Diggs $5.1 million. Teams don’t promise that kind of cap space to players they aren’t anticipating playing significant roles, so the full expectation is that’s the safety duo going into 2020.
That said, McDougald does come with a hefty cap savings number — just over $4 million — so if the team felt Marquise Blair was a better option once the team rolls around it could potentially have a decision to make.
But I think when the trade was made last October for Diggs the plan then became to pair him with McDougald for a while and groom Blair to take over down the road while also finding ways to use him in the meantime. The Seahawks used Blair in some specialty packages down the stretch and he played five, eight, five and eight snaps in his last four games of the season in that role. I think a similar role this year is what the plan is going in.