How franchise tags could impact Clowney returning to the Seahawks

Mar 11, 2020, 8:20 AM

Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney...

Seahawks' Jadeveon Clowney could fetch a big salary in free agency due to franchise tags. (Getty)


Free agency is less than a week away and the Seahawks will be working hard to keep defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, arguably the best non-quarterback in this year’s market.

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Rumors have run rampant over Clowney’s future, as far as both the team he will sign with and how much money he will make.

Some rumors have surfaced that Clowney could demand a contract that makes him the highest-paid defensive player in the history of the NFL, while some think Clowney could sign a deal worth $18 to $20 million. Clowney has also said he would like to sign with a contender rather than a poor team that could potentially offer him more money.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore and explained why there’s one thing that will push Clonwey’s asking price up: the franchise tag.

“He had it put into his contract when he was traded (to Seattle from Houston) that they couldn’t franchise him again (Houston did for 2019 before Clowney was traded), so he’s free and clear (to test free agency),” Schefter said. “And when you have all the guys in this market that are going to have tags on them, I think it boosts his value”

Clowney was one of the top five pass rushers scheduled to be a free agent. The other four are all expected to get the franchise tag: Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue, Kansas City’s Chris Jones, Baltimore’s Matt Judon and Tampa Bay’s Shaquill Barrett. The franchise tag for a defensive end is reportedly $19.3 million.

“So when you’ve got the tags that go on the top pass rushers and Jadeveon Clowney can’t be tagged, that automatically boosts his value because he can go where he wants,” Schefter said. “He can go to the highest bidder and somebody will want to pay him.”

Along with the Seahawks, who have said all offseason they want to keep Clowney in Seattle, two teams that have reported interest in the former No. 1 pick are the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants. The Colts have the second-most cap space in the NFL and some believe they could sign a top free agent quarterback to help them improve on a disappointing 7-9 season, while the Giants haven’t won more than 5 games in three years and have a first-year head coach in Joe Judge.

“Somebody’s going to pay him and there’s nothing that inhibits him from getting that done,” Schefter said.

Something that teams and fans alike will look at is Clowney’s overall production since entering the league as the first overall pick in 2014. He has been dominant at times and is seen as great against the run, but he has never recorded more than 10 sacks in a season and had just 3 sacks in 2019. Additionally, he has missed at least one game in every season but one.

Even with the concerns over his production and injury history, Schefter is certain teams will throw a lot of money Clowney’s way.

“Teams have money to spend and pass rushers are at a premium. They’re just at a premium,” he said. “You can’t get them because they’re all tagged. That’s why Clowney is going to have value here aside from the fact that he’s a good player, because (there’s) no strings attached.”

Jarran Reed

Clowney isn’t the only notable Seahawks defensive linemen hitting free agency. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who had 10.5 sacks in 2018, could also be in a different uniform in 2020. Unlike Clowney, the Seahawks could use the franchise tag on Reed, but the team reportedly will not do so.

“I have not heard a lot yet, and I will say I’m a little more focused on the CBA and quarterbacks than Jarran Reed at this point in time, but I will say that I’m sure somebody is going to have interest in him and it wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle did,” Schefter said. “The guy’s a talented player. Somebody will bid on the upside and work in incentives in that contract to get him to try to achieve them.”

Reed had a disappointing 2019, recording just 1.5 sacks and being not nearly as disruptive as in 2018. His season was also slowed due to a six-game suspension due to a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy in 2017.

“Obviously there’s been some issues there that teams will be aware of and probably account for in any contract that’s written up, but I haven’t heard a lot of activity and not because there’s not a lot, but because I haven’t asked a lot about him (yet),” Schefter said.

You can listen to Schefter’s full conversation with Bob, Dave and Moore at this link or in the player below.

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How franchise tags could impact Clowney returning to the Seahawks