Seahawks bring back Benson Mayowa to revive pass rush while Clowney watch continues

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While the Jadeveon Clowney watch continued into its third week Wednesday, the Seahawks made another move to shore up their ailing pass rush, while maybe showing Clowney they are getting tired of waiting for him to make a decision.

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 contract with Seattle Wednesday afternoon, as confirmed by his agent, David Canter. The NFL Network reported Mayowa agreed to a one-year deal that includes $3 million fully guaranteed and could go over $4 million with incentives.

Seattle two weeks ago agreed to terms with Bruce Irvin, also on a one-year deal, to also try to jumpstart a pass rush that was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2019.

Each are players who have substantial experience not only playing in Seattle’s system with the Seahawks but also with other teams who run a similar defense (Mayowa, like Irvin, also has been with the Raiders when current Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., was the DC there).

Mayowa is coming off maybe his best NFL season, having made a career-high seven sacks last year in 15 games in just 302 snaps, per Pro Football Reference.

As with 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 while 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 ranked tied for the second-fewest in the league (only Miami had fewer, with 23).

Mayowa initially made the Seattle roster in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Idaho, having originally caught the team’s eye with his performance as a tryout player in the team’s rookie minicamp.

But playing behind a stacked defensive line and 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.

Both of his appearances in 2013 came in the first two games of the season 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 then waived by Seattle in the initial roster cutdown to 53 players before the 2014 season and then claimed by the Raiders.

He spent two years with the Raiders, two with Dallas, one with Arizona and then went back to Oakland last year.

And while he has never been an official full-time starter for any team, he has made an increasing impact in recent seasons with six sacks with Dallas in 2016, four with Arizona in 2018 and then a career-high seven last season.

The signing of Mayowa doesn’t appear to preclude that the Seahawks could still bring in Clowney. But it does appear to indicate that the Seahawks are ready to make sure they have the defensive line pieces they need in 2020 whether or not they keep Clowney.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, in fact, reported that “the door isn’t closed in Seattle on Jadeveon Clowney, but the couldn’t wait any longer to start adding potential replacements.”

And indeed, it was worth wondering if the signing of Mayowa was also possibly 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.

The Seahawks also knew they were beginning to run out of options to fill out the rush end spot as there had begun to be a little run on the free agents remaining with the likes of Adrian Clayborn (Browns) and Kamalei Correa (re-signing with Titans) each agreeing to deals in the last day, each players some had speculated could be on Seattle’s list.

Seattle also earlier in free agency re-signed tackle Jarran Reed, and the Seahawks also 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.

Seattle had just two members of the Super Bowl team on its defense last year — linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright — but now adds two more in Mayowa and Irvin (whose contract details have not yet been released). Seattle 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 (Willson is a free agent and has not signed a contract but tweeted last month he was expecting to return in 2020).


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