Clowney or Ngakoue? Actually, there’s a way for Seahawks to get both
Heading into 2020 free agency, the Hawks sit in the upper half of the league in terms of cap space. It’s a place they have been before, but this situation is very different. Whereas the Seahawks have been one of the teams with the most dead cap weight in recent years (paying players who have been traded, cut or retired), they currently sit with less than $1 million in dead cap hits.
But wait – it gets even better.
The Seahawks only have three veteran players signed to contracts beyond 2021, and two of them are inarguably the best players on the team and still in their prime performance years.
• Quarterback Russell Wilson: 31 years old, four years remaining, cap hits between $31-39 million a year.
• Linebacker Bobby Wagner: 29 years old, three years remaining, cap hits between $14.75-20.3 million a year.
• Kicker Jason Myers: 28 years old, three years remaining, cap hits between $3.6-5 million a year.
Add all of these favorable conditions together and what do you get? A case for the Seahawks to trade for Yannick Ngakoue… and re-sign Jadeveon Clowney.
Yes, the Seahawks can make this happen.
Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com recently reported that the Seahawks are interested in Ngakoue and believe the price would be a first-round pick and a swap of second-round picks. The Seahawks would presumably sign the 24-year-old pass rusher to a multi-year extension worth in excess of $19 million a year, securing the top pass rusher on the market.
Clowney, who is arguably a more valuable defensive end than Ngakoue, reportedly could be signed for $18-23 million a year.
By adding both Clowney and Ngakoue, the Seahawks would turn their greatest weakness – pass rush – into one of their greatest strengths. Unlike many of the options available in free agency, both of these players would be expected to play their entire contracts in their athletic primes.
Manipulating the structure of these contracts and restructuring existing contracts that take up significant 2020 salary cap space could free up enough room for 2020 for the Seahawks to fill many of their holes with their favorite kind of free agents: second- and third-wave players.
The Seahawks have found value in signing players to one- or two-year deals under $4 million annually (see: Bradley McDougald, Al Woods, Mike Iupati, D.J. Fluker, Mychal Kendricks), and it would make sense that they rely on this strategy to fill holes across the defensive and offensive lines.
Surrendering just one draft pick to get Ngakoue would still leave the Seahawks with two second-round picks, a fourth and a fifth, plus they are expected to receive compensatory picks in the third, fourth and sixth rounds as compensation for losing Earl Thomas, Justin Coleman and Shamar Stephen in free agency last year.
If the Seahawks ended the 2020 offseason with seven draft picks, a handful of established role players on short-term contracts and the two best edge rushers available on the open market, they would enter the season with the most championship-ready roster they’ve had since 2014.
And it’s absolutely possible.