Moore: Seahawks and other teams realizing Clowney’s not worth top dollar
Mar 27, 2020, 10:22 AM
We’re ending the second week of free agency, and Jadeveon Clowney is still unsigned. He was supposed to be the best free agent or second-best free agent available, but the market has told us otherwise when it comes to what he thinks he’s worth versus what the Seahawks and other teams think he’s worth.
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If he played like he did in the first San Francisco game in all 16 games last year, he would have been paid $25 million a year in a long-term contract with $60 million or more guaranteed. But he didn’t. There were simply too many games where Clowney didn’t show up enough to warrant a huge payday now.
In the second half of the season he had no sacks. In the first half of the season, he had a six-game stretch with no sacks. In three games against the Saints, Browns and Rams, he had a combined six tackles and no quarterback hits. For the season, he had three sacks and only 12 QB hits, half the number of QB hits that free-agent defensive end Everson Griffen recorded in Minnesota.
His lack of consistency, injury concerns and absence of sacks have contributed to what John Clayton thinks will result in a one-year, $14 million contract in which Clowney must address those issues in 2020 if he wants to get the monster payday in 2021.
I’ve mentioned over and over again that I don’t think the Seahawks need to bring him back. He was part of a defense that allowed the second-most yards in franchise history.
I think NFL general managers are telling us we might have been misled by Clowney’s splash plays against the Niners and the wildly athletic pick-six he had against the Cardinals. He’s a great player at times, a really good player at times, and even a good player at other times, but when you add that up, you don’t get a player who’s worth $20 million or more a season.
It’s not just Clowney, I’m starting to feel that way about Bobby Wagner and Shaquill Griffin too. For someone making $18 million a year, Wagner didn’t do enough last year to justify that kind of money. Griffin did a nice job last year at left cornerback, but everyone talks about him like he was terrific, and I’m not so sure that he was. He has gone 31 games, including the playoffs, without making an interception. I know that interceptions aren’t everything, but just like sacks, they’re drive killers.
Pass breakups are great, but just like QB hits, they’re not the same as sacks. That’s one of the reasons why I’m excited about Quinton Dunbar’s arrival from Washington. He had four interceptions in 11 games last year and is expected to challenge Tre Flowers at the right-corner spot, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a competition with Griffin. If Dunbar is good enough to beat out Griffin, you could flip Griffin to the other side of the field where he’s played before to open up a new competition with Flowers.
Here’s the other thing with Clowney. I get the feeling that if he signs with another team, Seahawks fans will think the defense is doomed. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. What if they signed Griffen instead of Clowney and added one of two low-cost options in Clay Matthews or Benson Mayowa?
You mean to tell me the Seahawks’ defense would somehow be worse with Bruce Irvin, Griffen and Mayowa, three guys who specialize in getting to the quarterback, than it would be with Clowney?
And I don’t know how you feel about this, but if you bring Clowney back, you’re probably going to lose starting center Justin Britt as a salary cap casualty. Maybe the offense would be fine without Britt, maybe not. Maybe Joey Hunt or Ethan Pocic or B.J. Finney would replace him and it would be business as usual. But it wasn’t business as usual when the Seahawks traded center Max Unger to New Orleans for tight end Jimmy Graham.
When we find out what’s going to happen with Clowney, I won’t be all that disappointed if he returns on a short-term deal. But I’d rather see the other option play out in which Plan B might be better than Plan A anyway.
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