O’Neil: When Seahawks decide not to extend players, they’re rarely wrong

Aug 10, 2021, 2:30 PM
Seahawks Duane Brown...
Duane Brown, Seattle's 35-year-old left tackle, wants a contract extension. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ reluctance to pay the player acquired in a trade from Houston could end up costing them the services of their best player at a premium position where there is no adequate replacement.

But enough about Jadeveon Clowney.

Most Important Seahawks: Two top playmakers for the offense

Oh, you thought this was Duane Brown we were talking about? The left tackle who’s been present but not practicing in what coach Pete Carroll has described as a “statement.” Put more bluntly: He wants more money. So does safety Jamal Adams, who is in a very different phase of his career and plays on the other side of the ball but is in the midst of a very similar standoff of sorts.

And for everyone out there who is so certain the Seahawks are absolutely screwing this up by not simply cutting the check(s) necessary to get those guys practicing, I want you to tell me the last time they opted against re-signing someone and it came back to bite them squarely in the butt.

Seriously. I’m waiting.

It wasn’t Clowney, who got less in Tennessee last year than he was offered by Seattle and wound up with a forgettable 2020 season cut short by surgery. It wasn’t Earl Thomas, who signed with Baltimore in 2019, unless you think that staying in Seattle would have kept the free safety from taking the personal plummet that kept him from returning to the league either last year or this year.

Frank Clark? Maybe. The Seahawks had the chance to extend him in 2018 before a career year set him up to become a $20 million per year player. Seattle failed to reach a long-term deal with him the next year, applied the franchise tag and then netted significant draft-pick compensation by trading him to Kansas City.

And if we’re using hindsight, might as well go all the way back to 2014 when Golden Tate left as a free agent, though that was a decision that was inextricably wrapped up with Seattle’s decision to trade for and then pay Percy Harvin the year before.

But by and large, contract extensions are one of the things that Seattle Seahawks have done best in the 11 years John Schneider and Pete Carroll have run the franchise. They’ve done quite a few of them with guys who were the very best in the world at their respective jobs. Thomas. Richard Sherman. Russell Wilson (twice). Bobby Wagner (twice).

When they have erred, it has usually been in signing extensions with veterans in an effort to buy goodwill. Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett all signed extensions with Seattle and did not play a single down during the seasons that were added to the existing deals.

That history offers no insight into Seattle’s current situation with regard to Adams and Brown. We don’t know what those players are asking for and we don’t know what Seattle is offering. Even if we did, I don’t know if I can tell you who was “right” or what was “realistic.” This game takes such a physical toll on its participants that I don’t think it’s useful or appropriate to tell anyone how much money they should play it for. On the other hand, the salary cap rules are structured in such a way that what appears to be stingy on the part of a team may just be financial prudence.

This isn’t about what anyone deserves so much as what the market says.

What I can say is that over the past 11 years under Carroll and Schneider, Seattle has been willing to spend the money to keep its stars – and in some cases keeping more of them than those around the league expected them to hold onto. And in those instances when the Seahawks have decided the price was too high, they haven’t been proven wrong in that assessment.

Follow Danny O’Neil on Twitter.

Further reading: Hawks’ situations with Adams, Brown a growing concern

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O’Neil: When Seahawks decide not to extend players, they’re rarely wrong