Chris Clemons is hurting himself and the Seahawks
By Brock Huard
Chris Clemons is not helping himself or his team. John Clayton referenced the 60,000 reasons he should be at the Seahawks’ mandatory minicamp this week, but I’ve got one: honor your contract.
Pete Carroll’s system and the LEO position have enabled Clemons to flourish with 22 sacks the last two years, or two more than the eight-year veteran had in his first six seasons in the league combined. Clemons will turn 31 in October and undoubtedly is looking for the last major payday of his career.
Agent Don Henderson and Clemons have decided to no-show, a surprise to head coach Pete Carroll.
“In communication with Chris, I thought he was coming, so this was a little bit of a late development that he’s not. I’m a little surprised that he’s not here,” Carroll said. “We’ve had open communication with the agent and Chris and feel like everything is on the up and up and very amicable and all of that. It continues to be one of our priorities and we would like to get him back.”
To make such a bold move, Clemons’ camp obviously feels like they have the leverage in this spat, believing the Seahawks can’t live without his double-digit sack production. Even though the organization spent its most prized draft capital on its future pass-rushing LEO, Bruce Irvin, and even though Carroll’s regime over two years has shown very clearly no malcontent or individual will be more important than the locker room, Clemons is bound to challenge the philosophy.
Don’t be mistaken, this is a much more serious test and significant assault on the goodwill and chemistry than any previous move had been. The timing of the rebuild dictates that. LenDale White and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were easy sacrifices early in the process. Lofa Tatupu and Matt Hasselbeck, though challenging on the PR front, were again disposable with their age and beaten-up bodies.
Clemons? Though ancient compared to others on the Seahawks’ roster, he’s hit his production peak and is a vital element of Seattle winning in 2012.
This holdout is problematic in four more ways:
• The Seahawks can ill afford any distraction.
• Bruce Irvin would benefit from a veteran with a proven skill set to model.
• Give in to Clemons now, and get ready for Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner and crew to eventually follow.
• Players who miss offseason conditioning work are typically more prone to preseason injury.
General manager John Schneider wanted no part of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” because he didn’t want his negotiations played out publicly. Chris Clemons has now made it public and national. He decided to force the issue, and in so doing has broken his word and commitment to his coach and to his team.
Ultimately, the leverage belongs to the Seahawks. Clemons is under contract for $4 million this season and he will have no large payday if he doesn’t play and isn’t on the field wreaking the havoc he has the last two seasons. Holding out is a card — one of the few — that Clemons can play.
Unfortunately, with this team, this organization and most importantly this head coach, it is the wrong card for Clemons.