Moore: Seahawks would be better served signing Armstead over Clowney
Feb 28, 2020, 12:51 AM
It’s fun to play armchair general manager, putting yourself in John Schneider’s shoes, creating an offseason game plan for the Seahawks’ player acquisition and retention.
If I were him, I’d let Jadeveon Clowney go and pursue one or two elite pass-rushers in free agency while trading up from the No. 27 overall spot in the first round to grab another defensive end in the draft.
As good as Clowney is, I don’t think he’s worth the $21 million to $23 million he appears to be seeking. If the Seahawks’ defense was above average last year, I’d be in favor of keeping Clowney, but it wasn’t. It ranked 22nd in total defense.
It’s a small sample size, but the Seahawks actually gave up fewer points in the two games without an injured Clowney and averaged more sacks too. I’d argue that the defense would suffer more without free safety Quandre Diggs than it would without Clowney.
Other armchair GMs, such as 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps, want to see the Seahawks pursue pass-rushers Dante Fowler and Robert Quinn in free agency while also trading for Von Miller. But John Clayton doesn’t think the Broncos will trade Miller.
There are holes in every armchair GM’s plan, including mine, but I think San Francisco’s Arik Armstead should be Schneider’s No. 1 target when free agency begins on March 18.
Yannick Ngakoue of Jacksonville and Shaq Barrett of Tampa Bay are higher-rated pass-rushers, but they’ll likely be off the board once they’re franchise tagged by the Jaguars and Bucs. Armstead rates as the top edge rusher of available players, and there are a number of things I like about acquiring him:
• It would weaken the arch-rival in your division while strengthening your own team.
• Armstead is only 26 and should be a menace for the next five years.
• The 49ers have only $20 million in salary-cap space and also hope to keep wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and free safety Jimmie Ward, who are unrestricted free agents. And they would like to give contract extensions to tight end George Kittle and defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, both of whom are entering the final year of their rookie deals. In other words, they’re strapped and can’t keep everyone, increasing the likelihood that Armstead could leave.
• Armstead registered 73 QB pressures, 10 sacks and two forced fumbles during the regular season and was just as impactful in the playoffs with two sacks and another forced fumble in three games.
Armstead certainly benefited from playing on a defensive line with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, players who command double-teams. So you could tell me he won’t be as effective on Seattle’s D-line, especially if Clowney leaves. Like I said, my armchair GM plan might have some holes too.
I’d still rather see the Seahawks take their chances by spending $18 million a year on Armstead than $22 million on Clowney, dealing a blow to the 49ers while dramatically improving their pass rush.