Clayton: Seahawks have upper hand to sign Clowney, but there’s a new cost

May 6, 2020, 11:28 AM | Updated: 5:29 pm

Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney...

Top defensive end Jadeveon Clowney remains a free agent. (Getty)


Finally, Jadeveon Clowney has spoken.

O’Neil explains why Clowney’s best offer from Hawks is likely in the past

The only problem is that we didn’t learn much about what he is going to do this season. Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston sat down with Clowney this week and discussed why the NFL’s top remaining free agent hasn’t signed with a team.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know and it doesn’t sound as if he’s going to sign anywhere soon. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he’s left the door open if Clowney wants to return, but the door may not be wide open.

The Seahawks added Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin as veteran pass-rushing options. They drafted Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson as young options. What everyone has to understand is that the Seahawks have the ability to maintain their offer to Clowney, but his signing would now come with a price.

While the Seahawks have roughly around $17 million of cap room, if you count the top 51 salary cap numbers on the team, they have a little less than $8 million in the rookie pool and they – believe it or not – are at the stage that if they sign a pricey player they will have to let some players go.

This year is different. The 2020 salary cap came in a little lower than expected – $192.8 million instead of $200 million. The new collective bargaining agreement called for bigger base salaries and more regular-season expenses with an extra two players added to the 53-man roster coming from the practice squad.

The lowest base salary is $610,000. Last year, it was $495,000. That means teams have to count at least $1.22 million throughout the season. More money has to go into the 12-man practice squad.

Clowney, meanwhile, is coming back from core surgery. With his injury history, any team wanting to sign him would have to give him a physical, and that’s not happening because the team physicians aren’t allowed to give physicals during the pandemic. The Seahawks know him so they can bring him back with limited worry about getting the physical, though.

The good news for Seattle is Clowney loved being a Seahawk, as he said to FOX 26.

“I love Seattle,” Clowney said. “I love everybody on the coaching staff.”

After starting out offering Clowney in the $13 million a year to $15 million range, the Seahawks may have gone as high as $16 million to lure him back. Clowney has barely budged. He wanted more than $22 million at first. A couple weeks into free agency, he lowered the demand to $17 million to $18 million, but by that time, the virus eliminated his chances of getting a team physical.

He said he’s had a few offers. I’m sure the Miami Dolphins offered him early but it was probably in the $18 million range. The Cleveland Browns talked to him but you get the idea they aren’t going to pay him big now. They would have to cut Olivier Vernon if they did.

The Tennessee Titans are clearly interested but my guess is their offer might be as low as $10 million on a one-year deal, and that’s irrelevant for the moment because they can’t give Clowney a physical.

So for now the Seahawks will operate as if they are going to try to groom second-round pick Taylor as the starting defensive end. He will compete against the other three ‘Leo’ defensive ends. In the meantime, Clowney sits and waits.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.

More Seahawks news and analysis

Bumpus: Seahawks and Clowney are both right to take patient approach
Gallant: The big Seahawks questions yet to be answered after the draft
Have the Seahawks added enough new talent this offseason?
Moore: Seahawks need a veteran RB, but it shouldn’t be Marshawn Lynch
Huard: Two free agents, besides Clowney, the Seahawks should pursue

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