Seahawks reportedly facing stiff competition from Browns for Clowney
After nearly three weeks of free agency, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney remains unsigned, and a new team has reportedly entered the competition to sign the talented defensive end who spent 2019 with the Seahawks.
According to ESPN senior NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler, the Cleveland Browns are not only looking at signing Clowney, but that it’s believed that the Browns have gotten closer to Clowney’s asking price than any other team, including the Seahawks.
From @SportsCenter earlier: Cleveland Browns have shown interest in Jadeveon Clowney, and some people around league believe Cleveland got closer with Clowney than other suitors, though nothing ultimately happened from recent talks. Seattle's offer hasn't been what Clowney wants.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 4, 2020
Clowney to the Browns would be interesting, as they already has a clear-cut No. 1 pass rusher in former first overall pick Myles Garrett, and the team also has veteran edge rusher Olivier Vernon and the recently-signed Adrian Clayborn. Winning the war for Clowney’s services would certainly give the Browns one of the scarier pass rushes in the NFL. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com said a source told the site that the Browns had been monitoring Clowney over the last few weeks.
710 ESPN Seattle’s Jim Moore wrote earlier this week that he thought Cleveland would be where Clowney landed if he left Seattle, and that was before there was reported interest between the two teams.
Clowney, 27, was reportedly seeking over $20 million per year at the start of free agency, but this week, ESPN’s Dianna Russini said Clowney had lowered his asking price to $17 or $18 million annually.
Clowney has also reportedly expressed to teams that he would be willing to sign a one-year deal so he can play well and re-enter free agency in 2021, when the salary cap will be increased.
710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton wrote that Clowney “misread” the market and should have lowered his asking price sooner.
The talented edge rusher shined at times for the Seahawks in 2019, most notably in a Week 10 thriller against the San Francisco 49ers when he had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a number of QB hits and pressures. It was in that game, however, that Clowney suffered a hip/core injury that caused him to miss three games. He failed to record a sack until the Seahawks’ first playoff game and had just 3 in the regular season.
Clowney has never recorded double-digit sacks during a season and has a fairly extensive injury history. Teams have been hesitant to meet his reported asking price so far, and multiple league sources reportedly told various NFL reporters that they expect Clowney to return to the Seahawks, where he has said he loved playing.
Along with the Seahawks and Browns, the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets have been linked to Clowney, though the Titans appear to be more of a threat than New York at this time.
The Titans’ official website had a story saying that the team was looking into signing Clowney, and the story included quotes from both general manager Jon Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel, who coached Clowney on the Houston Texans.
Clowney told reporters after the season that he wanted to play for a contender, so of the four teams with reported interest at this point, it would seem that the Seahawks and Titans fit that mold. Both teams won at least one playoff game in 2019 and the Titans made the AFC title game.
The Browns had high expectations heading into 2019 after a strong finish to 2018 and some big-name acquisitions like receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but they struggled mightily, going 6-10 and firing head coach Freddie Kitchens. They face an uphill battle in their division, as the Baltimore Ravens went 14-2 and return MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Pittsburgh Steelers went 9-7 despite quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missing 14 games.
For the Seahawks, they return many of the pieces from their 11-5 team last year, including quarterback Russell Wilson, but the pass rush, even with Clowney, was poor. The team had just 28 sacks, tied for second fewest in the NFL, and Rasheem Green led the team with 4 sacks. Seattle already signed Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa to help in that regard, but a top end like Clowney with an improved supporting cast would go a long way in terms of improving the Seahawks’ defense.