Clayton: Jadeveon Clowney could end up deciding between Seahawks and sitting 2020 out

Jadeveon Clowney remains a free agent almost six months after his last game. (AP)

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones says he will sit out the NFL season if he doesn’t get a contract worth $20.1 million a year. Former Atlanta Falcons halfback Devonta Freeman also says he will sit out the season if he doesn’t get the number he’s seeking in what is a down paying sport for running backs.

What are the key factors that leave Jadeveon Clowney unsigned?

The Seahawks offered Freeman a one-year, $3 million deal. He said no and the Seahawks instead reached a one-year, $2.75 million contract with Carlos Hyde. That was the seventh-highest amount of money giving to a running back in 2020.

I’m starting to wonder if Jadeveon Clowney is thinking the same thoughts as Jones and Freeman.

Even though the Seahawks offered him as much as $16 million a year early on in free agency, Clowney was reluctant to counter. He wanted more than $22 million, but that was too much for an edge rusher who is great but also has never had a double-digit sack season. He turned down a good offer from the Cleveland Browns, as well.

Tony Pauline from the Pro Football Network recently reported that he hears Clowney’s two new favorite teams to go to are the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys, but neither has the cap room this year to do it and each team has major cap issues for next year.

Clowney may be on the front end of a trend where players might sit out training camp or the entire season if they don’t get a contract they think fits their value, and what got me to think that were his comments Tuesday to Josina Anderson. Clowney told her he would like to get something done before the start the season.

He didn’t say before the start of training camp. He said before the start of the season. At the moment, he can’t do much with teams other than the Seahawks because it’s forbidden for players to get physicals because of the virus. I’m wondering if he’s taking the tack that he knows he’s not going to get a $17 million salary, so why not sit out training camp in this virus-affected season and assess in late August if something appeals to him.

Maybe he understands the mistake he made in free agency was pushing for more than $22 million. If he has to play for half of what he was asking for, he might not want to risk anything in training camp.

Clowney has earned $50.58 million during his NFL career. He’s been to three Pro Bowls, but he’s also had injuries that have kept him out of 20 games in six years. He loved playing for the Seahawks and the Seahawks loved how well he played for them. He was even dedicated enough to finish the season on the field for Seattle despite needing core surgery in November.

On Tuesday, I talked to Ben Volin, a senior NFL writer for The Boston Globe who covered the New England Patriots. One of the interesting things he said was that Patriots coach Bill Belichick loved building a defense from the back to the front. He has currently assembled the league’s best man-to-man cornerback trio in football, led by Stephon Gilmore, the defensive player of the year in 2019.

A great man-to-man secondary allowed him to not need to pay many pass rushers. He’s let Chandler Jones and Trey Flowers go, electing not to pay them.

Think about Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. He went to two Super Bowls with a defense built from the back to the front. The Legion of Boom secondary was built first and general manager John Schneider got Carroll enough pass rushers to turn the defense into a strength.

This creates an interesting scenario. The Seahawks traded for Clowney on Aug. 31, 2019. He signed a one-year, $15 million contract, but the Houston Texans paid $7 million, so the Seahawks paid just $8 million. Would it be crazy to think if Clowney can’t get a deal elsewhere that he might think about taking a discounted Seahawks deal in late August?

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