Clayton: How Jadeveon Clowney landed with Titans, not Seahawks
For the Seahawks, the return of Jadeveon Clowney just wasn’t meant to be.
You sensed that for the past five months. Though the Seahawks kept in touch and maintained different offers, Clowney wasn’t countering. Clowney said both last year and this year that he liked playing for the Seahawks and wanted to come back, but there was something in his mind that was going to prevent it.
The Seahawks started out offering $13 million a year. Clowney made $15 million last year, and his eyes were on a deal for a salary over $20 million. That was never going to happen in Seattle. Clowney may be one of the top six or seven edge rushers in football, but for the Seahawks he’s a five-technique because of his disruptive pass rush and ability to stop the run.
In the back of his mind, he knew he could go the Tennessee Titans and reunite with head coach Mike Vrabel, who was a defensive coordinator for him with the Houston Texans. The problem was he knew he was going to lose money.
Ultimately, the way Clowney handled things could cost him around $5 million. Where $17 million should have been the number, he ended up signing for $12 million with $3 million of incentives. His next challenge is going through COVID-19 testing and taking a physical. It’s also not guaranteed he will be able to play in the Titans’ season opener.
Clowney fired his agent, Bus Cook, over the weekend. He’s fired him several times over the past year, but that didn’t matter. Clowney was pulling the strings on his negotiations – or, in the case of the Seahawks, non-negotiations.
It was clear Clowney wasn’t going to go through training camp at a discounted price. He didn’t want to risk injury or getting the virus. That’s understandable.
Everyone thought Friday he was going to agree with the Titans, but the New Orleans Saints put on a full court press to get him. Saints coach Sean Payton went to visit him Saturday with two assistants and wanted to take him out to dinner.
Clowney altered that plan. He had his chef cook everyone a great meal. In the meantime, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis tried to find a tricky way to pay him. They only had $6.9 million of cap room and they are going to have to break up the team after the season because the $20 million drop in next year’s cap will be hard to overcome.
Loomis tried to work a sign-and-trade with the Cleveland Browns to use draft capability to get the Browns to pay some of Clowney’s salary, but the NFL will never allow any type of deal like that. While that may work in the NBA, the NFL wouldn’t permit creating a new system that would cause cap confusion and force more deals that would cause a team to lose a coveted player.
What worked for Clowney is that Saints’ push did increase the Titans offer, and he accepted. The only problem is that the extra couple days could make his status in the opener uncertain.
The five months of Clowney conversations in Seattle has been a labor. Maybe it was fitting he got the deal done on the Labor Day weekend, much like he did last year in the trade from Houston to Seattle.
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