Wassell: Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakuoe likely have a lot on their minds for different reasons

Apr 23, 2020, 12:53 AM
Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney...
Jadeveon Clowney remains a free agent as the NFL's attention turns to the draft. (Getty)

I have a few thoughts before the draft. Let’s start with Jadeveon Clowney. He was the highest-ranked pass rusher coming into free agency and now he’s one of very few without a home. I can’t help wondering what he must be feeling right now.

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In Jacksonville, another pass rusher is clearly unhappy with his situation. And while Yannick Ngakuoe isn’t a free agent, he’s begging his owner to trade him, even going so far as to challenge Jaguars senior vice president of football administration and technology Tony Khan, the son of team owner Shad Khan, to a Twitter-war – one that he ended up losing in my opinion. Ngakuoe’s actions are guided not by money but emotion. Sure, he wants to be paid at the end of the day, but right now he’s so distraught by the prospect of having to put on a Jaguars uniform that he can’t keep his emotions in check.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Jadeveon Clowney, who hasn’t made a peep. Can we conclude that everything is OK and once he’s signed somewhere, life will go on as normal? For his sake, I hope that’s the case. During the Seahawks’ pre-draft press conference Tuesday, general manager John Schneider described communication between the team and Clowney as “cordial.” There’s no reason to think that isn’t the case. After all, Schneider has handled situations like these countless times. But let’s remember that Clowney has not.

When you’re used to having to go through this process over and over, regardless of which side you’re on, you get desensitized to the emotional aspects of putting a value on a player. When you are that player and you haven’t been through that process before, imagine how that must feel. And let’s not forget that these negotiations are supposed to result in Clowney’s financial security for the remainder of his life. That’s a heck of a lot to handle mentally.

The pricetag for Clowney was reportedly set around $20 million as he was considered the best available pass rusher. Not only is he not going to get that money, but there are serious doubts about how effective he is in the first place. Imagine having to hear that over and over, whether it’s from the media, fans, scouts, etc. Most of us will never have to go through that kind of grind. How much am I worth? Can I stay healthy? If I don’t make money now, will I ever make it? Why doesn’t the team that I gave my heart and soul to last year – playing through injury when I could have elected for surgery – think that I’m not worth committing big money to?

I hope that wherever Clowney ends up, he feels recharged and ready to go, whether it’s because he got his money or because the Coronavirus crisis has receded and we’re all just happier in a general sense. If he’s with the Seahawks, I hope that the relationship increases beyond just “cordial” to a point where he feels like proving to everyone that he’s worth every nickel that Seattle decides to pay him.

Dear Baseball: What have we learned?

My second point has to do with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the sign stealing scandal that plagued baseball’s offseason. What have we learned from all this? I hope that even with the lack of a severe punishment for anyone involved with stealing signs, players don’t commit these kinds of offenses again.

In our society, we use punishment as a way to deter criminal behavior. In this case, if a player wanted to create another scheme to get an edge on the other team, he could likely do so without much worry about consequences unless Manfred decided to really stick it to him this time around. I have to say, though, after all we’ve been through – a cheating scandal, a worldwide pandemic, a truncated or lost season – if any player considered cheating in the near future, that would be beyond disgrace to the point where I’m not even sure what to say about it. As baseball fans, we’d be left thoroughly depressed because it would give the impression that the product we’re watching isn’t what we want it to be. I’d like to keep on believing that Alex Cora and the Astros were the only team that had the will to take cheating to an extreme.

If Manfred can’t teach these teams a lesson, hopefully they’ll have learned it simply by observing how fans react when names like Cora, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are uttered. You hear those names and you just shake your head. Their perceived greatness will always be in doubt unless they can somehow prove that they’re still talented players or dugout minds without having to cheat. Do you want to be one of those players? I have faith that their peers will determine that it’s just not worth it, regardless of what their commissioner is willing to do to them.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom Wassell on Twitter.

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Wassell: Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakuoe likely have a lot on their minds for different reasons