Seahawks Takeaways: Breaking down the Mayowa signing and what it means for Clowney

Apr 3, 2020, 9:44 AM

Seahawks DE Benson Mayowa...

The Seahawks signed DE Benson Mayowa this week. Is Jadeveon Clowney still an option? (Getty)


The Seahawks added a defensive end Wednesday, though not the one fans had been eyeing. So, how does Benson Mayowa’s signing help – or hurt – Jadeveon Clowney’s chances to return to Seattle?

Clowney or bust? That may not be the case for this Seahawks’ offseason

Here’s what you need to know:

Who is Benson Mayowa?

This marks Mayowa’s second stint with Seattle. The 28 year old originally signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013 and appeared in two games.

Mayowa has played for three teams since then – Arizona, Dallas, and Oakland – and has made 15 starts. His 2019 season was also his most productive; he finished with seven sacks and five tackles for loss.

Was he added as a replacement for Clowney?

That would be a surprise. Mayowa showed promise last season with Oakland, but it was in a rotational role, where he appeared in 29 percent of all defensive snaps. Compare that playing time with DeMarcus Lawrence (61%), Robert Quinn (59%) and Frank Clark (65%).

That Mayowa registered seven sacks while appearing in fewer than a third of snaps is impressive, but it’s doubtful the expectation is for him to be a premier edge rusher – and the reported one-year, $3 million deal he signed also supports that idea.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the Seahawks wanted to continue adding to their team and believe Clowney isn’t ready to decide. Presumably, that means they just may not have wanted to risk Mayowa signing elsewhere – not that they have moved on from Clowney.

Can the Seahawks still afford Clowney?

It’s feasible, but they’ll need to do a bit of roster maneuvering. Clowney is reportedly seeking a deal worth $17-$18 million per year. The Seahawks currently have about $11 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. That total factors in both the release of tight end Ed Dickson and safety Tedric Thompson – which brought their cap to $14.6 million – and the projected $3 million salary for Mayowa.

Does this help or hurt Clowney’s odds to re-sign?

The move eats up some cap flexibility, but also feels like added insurance – rather than a long-term answer – at defensive end. I don’t see it as hurting Clowney’s odds (though some other critics do, and I’ll get to those takes in a bit).

There are a couple possibilities here. There’s a chance the Seahawks have plenty of confidence in young players like Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier and want to add to a rotation, rather than shell out for a top-of-the-market edge rusher.

Another possibility is that the Seahawks wanted to add multiple players for depth and competition to the defensive line in free agency and were never going to sign only Clowney. I tend to buy this line of thinking, which is buoyed by that fact that their two additions – Mayowa and Bruce Irvin – have been on comparatively cheaper deals.

There are some critics who believe the addition of Mayowa is a bad sign for Clowney, though, and those opinions are worth mentioning here.

Dave Wyman of Bob, Dave and Moore thinks Mayowa’s signing could mean the Seahawks won’t budge on their offer and may have decided to move on. In this scenario, the team would look for a rotational approach and Mayowa is one of several mid-tier edge rushers the team will add.

710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard believes the signing sends a message to Clowney that the team is willing to move on and sign other players.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

More Seahawks offseason coverage

Hawks LB Cody Barton working to stay ready during shutdown
Will Blackmon: Why Quinton Dunbar ‘fits the Seattle mold’
Rost: 3 free agents who could be Seahawks’ next signings
Seahawks 2020 offseason tracker

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Seahawks Takeaways: Breaking down the Mayowa signing and what it means for Clowney