JAKE AND STACY

Heaps: To replace ‘blue-chip’ Clowney, Seahawks would need Ngakoue

Apr 7, 2020, 3:03 PM
Seahawks Yannick Ngakoue...
Is Yannick Ngakoue the Seahawks' target if Jadeveon Clowney leaves? (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

If the Seahawks can’t retain defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in free agency, how do they replace him? That’s a question that has been asked over and over again as Clowney and the Seahawks have yet to come to terms on a deal.

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One player that is available via trade that could take over for Clowney is Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ngakoue, 25, was given the franchise tag by the Jaguars before free agency and has made it clear on social media that he does not want to play for Jacksonville and is looking to be traded. Due to Seattle’s struggles in rushing the passer in 2019, they have been commonly linked to the star pass rusher.

On ESPN’s NFL Live, Ngakoue said what he’s looking for in his next team.

“I really want to be a part of a team that has a great culture and (where) winning is a habit,” he said. “I want to be part of something special.”

The Seahawks have been one of the NFL’s best teams for the last decade, making the playoffs eight times since 2010 and appearing in two Super Bowls, winning one of them. Are Ngakoue’s comments good news for Seattle? Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy certainly thinks so.

“Him saying he wants to play for a winning team and habit, there’s no better place than the Seattle Seahawks and if he has any influence on how the trades are going to go down, that’s a very good sign for the Seahawks, no question,” Heaps said.

Last season, Seattle acquired Clowney, who had been given the franchise tag from the Houston Texans. He was unwilling to sign his tender unless he was traded to a winning team, and he ultimately held out until he went to the Seahawks.

Now, Clowney is unsigned and it is unclear if he will return to the Seahawks more than three weeks into free agency.

“Especially as you look at how contract negotiations have gone with Jadeveon Clowney, I don’t know if (the Seahawks) are going to be in a position right now where you’re going to be able to settle things soon,” Heaps said.

Clowney has reportedly lowered his asking price from upwards of $20 million to $17 or $18 million. Seattle has reportedly been trying to ink him for less than $15 million annually and now nearly all other top pass rush options have been signed in free agency.

Clowney seems willing to wait for a deal, and he may waiting until he can travel and visit teams, which he is unable to do due to the coronavirus. While Clowney may be willing to remain patient, the Seahawks may not be able to stay that way.

“The Seahawks cannot wait forever, so at some point they’re going to have to move on and I think looking at Yannick Ngakoue, he is certainly a guy that’s going to be on the table for the Seahawks to try and see if they can pull the trade off if they move on from Clowney,” Heaps said. “The only way that you can replace a blue-chip-type of player like Clowney is with Ngakoue.”

The Jaguars are rebuilding and have 12 picks in the draft, including two first-round picks. The Seahawks have one first-round pick and two second-rounders, so they have the capital to make it happen. The issue would be Ngakoue’s contract, as he’s reportedly seeking a long-term deal with whatever team trades for him.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps on Twitter.

More Seahawks offseason coverage

Seahawks mock draft: How Seattle can finish rebuilding its core
Five Seahawks named to NFL All-Decade Team, but a pair gets snubbed
Quandre Diggs on joining Seahawks: ‘The game is fun again for me’
Salk: Why the Seahawks can’t just ‘move on’ from Jadeveon Clowney
• Seahawks 2020 offseason tracker

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Heaps: To replace ‘blue-chip’ Clowney, Seahawks would need Ngakoue