Could we be getting closer to some resolution to the future of Seahawks free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney?
A couple of reports Wednesday seemed to indicate some potential movement, though not all of it necessarily good for the chances of Clowney staying in Seattle.
Specifically, Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson told reporters during a conference call Wednesday that the team had been in touch with Clowney’s representatives and were “working through some things” with him. Tennessee has long been regarded as a team potentially interested in Clowney and Robinson’s on-the-record statement confirmed it.
As Robinson spoke, a report from Dianna Russini of ESPN stated that Clowney may be easing off on his asking price of $20 million a year or more to the $17-18 million range.
Tweeted Russini: “I am told by several sources the asking price has been moved off that $20mil+ number and it’s closer to $17-18mil. This could spark more interest. Also told Titans and Seahawks are still “‘interested.”‘
Depending on which reports you believe, though, even that lowered $17-18 million per year range may be more than Seattle has offered Clowney so far — several have indicated Seattle’s offer has been more in the $13-15 million range.
The $17-18 million range is essentially what the NFL franchise tag price would be for this year for a defensive end, which is $17.78 million.
And the note that “this could spark more interest” seemed to indicate that Clowney is more than happy to continue talking with other teams in the hope of getting the best offer he can.
The Jets may be one of the other teams who could show interest. Jets GM Joe Douglas said in a conference call with New York reporters Wednesday afternoon (many teams are holding media events this week since the league meetings were cancelled) that he has talked to Clowney’s agents and that “We’re going to do our due diligence on everyone who’s out there — especially at edge rusher.”
The Titans were rumored from the start as a team that might be interested in Clowney, and they apparently remain so despite having signed two other defensive end/rush ends in free agency — Vic Beasley and Kamalei Correa, the latter signing announced on Wednesday.
If it comes down to just cap space than the Jets and Titans have the edge on the Seahawks. The Jets were listed with roughly $32 million on Wednesday by OvertheCap.com — third-most remaining of the 32 NFL teams — while Tennessee is listed as having more than $23 million.
The Titans also fits Clowney’s stated hope of playing for a winning team, having made it to the AFC conference title game last season and retaining quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry in the offseason. (The Jets, on the other hand, do not after going 7-9 last season, though they did go 6-2 in the second half of the year).
Seattle is at roughly $15 milion after releasing Ed Dickson and waiving Tedric Thompson on Tuesday (moves that opened up $5.1 million in cap space) but without accounting for the salary of Bruce Irvin, who is thought to have agreed to a deal for one year in the $3-4 million range.
But Seattle could make other moves to create cap room such as releasing center Justin Britt ($8.5 million) or restructuring contracts, so this still comes down to largely an issue of how much the Seahawks want to pay Clowney and what they think his value is. The Seahawks balked last year at paying Frank Clark more than $18 million a year and ended up trading him to Kansas City.
One additional thing the Seahawks will weigh are ramifications for compensatory picks in 2021 for free agents lost. According to Nik Korte of OvertheCap.com, if Clowney were to sign, the Seahawks could be in line for a third-round pick.
That would essentially replace the third-rounder in 2020 they traded to Houston as part of the deal that brought him to Seattle and then make the trade essentially one year of Barkevious Mingo (who just signed with the Bears) and Jacob Martin for one year of Clowney, and now deciding how much they’d want to invest for three to four more years of Clowney.
That Seattle released/waived Dickson and Thompson on Tuesday raised the inevitable question of if something was imminent with Clowney, or another free agent.
But Tuesday passed without the Seahawks making any other moves, and there was no indication the moves were related to anything with Clowney (ESPN’s Field Yates, in fact, reported Wednesday morning that “things remain largely quiet regarding Jadeveon Clowney.”)
Wednesday marked two weeks since unrestricted free agents could officially begin signing with teams and Clowney remains one of the few marquee players still available.
Clowney has been thought to be willing to wait to get the kind of deal he thinks he deserves, with some rumblings around the league suggesting that he could even wait until after the league might again allow players to travel to take physicals at team sites. Clowney’s health issues (including core muscle surgery in January) have been thought to be one potential hold-up in his negotiations, with the NFL currently prohibiting players from traveling to take physicals at team facilities.
And for Seattle, his situation represents something of a quandary.
Improving the pass rush is one of the team’s main offseason goals — both coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider made that declaration at the NFL combine in February — and so far Seattle hasn’t done a whole to address it other than adding Irvin and re-signing tackle Jarran Reed.
And some of the secondary options, such as Correa and Adrian Clayborn (who signed Tuesday with Cleveland) are beginning to go off the board.
But a few options remain, specifically former Viking Everson Griffen, who it was reported Tuesday has interest in the Seahawks (he played for Carroll at USC).
There also remains the seemingly more remote possibility of pulling off a deal for Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue, who was recently given a franchise tag. Ngaokue wants to be dealt so he can get a long-term contract, but the Jags are thought to want at least a first-round pick as part of any package in return, and Ngakoue would also then want a new deal.
Seattle may soon have to decide how long to wait for Clowney or when to move to potential other options such as Griffen, who has been reported to be waiting to see what happens with Clowney before making his own decision.
Wednesday seemed to indicate some things may begin happening sooner rather than later.
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