JIM MOORE

Moore: Seahawks need sacks, and re-signing Clowney isn’t the answer

Feb 17, 2020, 1:07 AM | Updated: 1:11 am
Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney...
Jadeveon Clowney had just three sacks in 13 games with the Seahawks in 2019. (Getty)
(Getty)

A month ago I wrote that the Seahawks should maybe consider letting Jadeveon Clowney go in free agency.

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I knew then that it sounded crazy to some – why would you let your best defensive player leave without making him a competitive offer? Where would the defense be without him? This is further proof that I’m an idiot and should stick to writing about golf and dogs.

But here we are, a month later, and a month until Clowney is free to sign with another team on March 18, and I feel even stronger that the Seahawks might be better off spending the $20 million on other players in free agency.

I saw all the good stuff from Clowney that you did, and no one will ever forget how he was a one-man wrecking crew against San Francisco on Monday Night Football, helping hand the 49ers their first loss of the year.

Overall, he had three sacks, four forced fumbles, 10 tackles for loss and a pick-six in 2019. But still, even with Clowney, the Seahawks were 26th in total defense. And for how good he was against the run, the run defense was just 23rd, allowing 4.9 yards per carry for the second year in a row.

You’re right, the Seahawks’ defense could be worse without him. But in the three games without him this year, they allowed an average of 20 points. In the 13 games with him, they gave up an average of 26 points. In the regular-season game at Philadelphia without him, the Seahawks matched their season-high with five sacks.

Think about that for a second – the Seahawks had five sacks against Cincinnati and five against the Eagles and just 18 in their other 14 games.

Instead of re-signing Clowney, the Seahawks would be better off to follow what the Packers did last year when they signed free agents Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, who combined for 25.5 sacks this year.

Let Clowney go and get this year’s version of the Smiths, or the 2013 version of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril when they signed free-agent contracts with the Seahawks and helped lead the best defense in franchise history.

Bennett and Avril combined for 16.5 sacks this year, far ahead of what the Seahawks got from Clowney and Ziggy Ansah last season – 5.5.

Your counterpoint is a fair argument – which two difference-making pass-rushers will be available in free agency who could approximate what the Smiths did in 2019 and Bennett and Avril did in 2013? The top two on the market are likely to be off-limits. Yannick Ngakoue (Jaguars) and Shaq Barrett (Tampa Bay) will no doubt be franchise-tagged.

But you could pick a pair from the following list and have a good chance of dramatically improving your pass rush, which should improve the pass defense overall:

• Dante Fowler of the Rams (11.5 sacks)
• Arik Armstead of the 49ers (10 sacks)
• Bud Dupree of the Steelers (11.5 sacks)
• Matthew Judon of the Ravens (9.5 sacks)
• Robert Quinn of the Cowboys (11.5 sacks)

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Some of these might not even be options on March 18, but some certainly will. And if you could get two of them for $25 million to $30 million, I’d rather see the Seahawks go in that direction than to stick with Clowney.

Clowney’s really good in many areas. But he’s not a prototypical pass-rusher, which is what the Seahawks need most.

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