RENTON — The topic that might be at the top of mind for many/most/all Seahawks fans — will Jadeveon Clowney re-sign and continue his career in Seattle? — is one Clowney says he’s trying to keep as far out of sight as possible.
Clowney can be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season and if he piles up a few more games like last Monday’s — when his dominance on the defensive line led Seattle to a 27-24 overtime win at San Francisco — he figures to be as avidly sought after as any player who might be available.
And how Clowney played in that game — five pressures, a sack and a returned fumble for a touchdown, among other things — has only heightened the discussion over his future.
But as he met the assembled Seattle media before practice Wednesday, Clowney insisted he’s thinking only of the present.
“Right now I’m just focusing on trying to get ready to go for the Eagles,’’ he said, referring to Sunday’s game at Philadelphia. “A lot of football left, and I’m really focused on this season. I don’t care about looking down the road, just one game at a time, because we can do something special here. … That’s all I’m really focused on is trying to help this team trying to find a way to get to the playoffs and get to the Super Bowl.’’
Clowney says that’s in contrast to his final two years in Houston, when he says he let thoughts of his contract situation enter his mind regularly.
“Man, I thought about that last year, what was going to happen with my contract,’’ he said. “I thought about it the year before when I was in my last year. I’m done thinking about that. Just take it one game at a time, one season, one play.’’
Clowney was the first overall pick in 2014 by Houston. Houston could have extended him any time after the 2016 season. Instead, the Texans picked up an option for his 2018 season in the spring of 2017, and then in the spring of 2019 placed him on a franchise tag. Clowney didn’t sign the tag and held out, leading to his trade to Seattle.
The contract he ended up signing with the Seahawks included a provision that Seattle will not place a franchise tag on him again next spring, assuring he will become a free agent unless the Seahawks re-sign him before the new league year begins on March 18.
Clowney said he has yet to talk to the Seahawks about his future, but that’s also prohibited at the moment since Clowney remains officially tagged as a franchise player. Teams cannot negotiate new deals with tagged players until after the regular season. That will give Seattle three months or so to try to get Clowney signed before he could become an unrestricted free agent.
Seahawks fans looking for optimism that Clowney will re-sign could take heart in much of what he said Wednesday about his first 10 games with the Seahawks.
“I’m loving what the team is offering, has got to offer,’’ Clowney said at one point.
But the fact that Clowney negotiated not to be tagged after the season also strongly hints at him wanting to test the waters of free agency — he turns 27 in February, and it would be the first time he’s ever been a free agent.
Clowney is currently the 10th-highest-paid defensive end in the NFL at $15 million a year, but will likely aim to get something like the $21 million a season that Dallas gave DeMarcus Lawrence and the $20.8 million a year the Chiefs gave Frank Clark, a contract the Seahawks did not want to offer Clark. That led to his eventual trade — a move that then opened the door a few months later for Seattle to acquire Clowney.
But while whether Seattle should re-sign Clowney figures to dominate the local sports discussion until a decision is made, the man at the center of it all insists it’s a debate he’ll leave for others.
“You never know what is going to happen,’’ he said. “You could be one play away from getting injured and it all could blow up in your face. So just continue to have fun, continue to play at a high level, because it could be taken away from you at any minute Don’t worry about what the future holds right now.’’
CARROLL EXPECTS LOCKETT TO PLAY SUNDAY
Receiver Tyler Lockett was listed as limited on Wednesday as he continues to recover from a lower left-leg contusion suffered against San Francisco that caused him to stay in a Bay Area hospital for two nights due to worries over swelling.
But Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Lockett went through the team’s pre-practice walk-through and was expected to have a post-practice throwing session with quarterback Russell Wilson so that he can get the work needed to be able to play Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
“Tyler’s really on the upswing now,’’ Carroll said. “There were a couple tough days before he got out of California. He’s feeling way better and expects to do some work. He’s going to catch some balls after practice with Russ and start getting ready to go.”
Asked if he expects Lockett to play, Carroll said, “I do. He thinks that, too.’’
Carroll also said he thinks Lockett might be able to practice Thursday.
RUSSELL WILSON SHOWS UP ON INJURY REPORT WITH HAMSTRING
Seattle listed just three players as out for Wednesday’s practice: left tackle Duane Brown (knee/biceps), Clowney (knee/hip) and tight end Luke Willson (hamstring).
Willson isn’t expected to play while Brown and Clowney have been playing through their injuries and are expected to do so again against the Eagles.
Seattle listed 11 players as limited, notably Lockett and kicker Jason Myers with a right hip injury that is new, and another three as full participants despite an injury.
The most eye-catching name of the full-participant list is quarterback Russell Wilson, mentioned as having a hamstring issue.
That Wilson was a full participant indicates it’s nothing too concerning. But any mention of Wilson on the injury report is worth noting. He earlier in the year showed up on the report with a knee issue but has not missed a practice or a snap this season.
Also listed as a full participant was receiver Josh Gordon, who was limited at times in practice his first week with the Seahawks due to an ankle issue that dated to his time with the Patriots. But Carroll said earlier this week that Gordon is fine and that there will be “no restrictions” on his use going forward.