O’Neil: Why Seahawks’ best offer to Jadeveon Clowney is likely in the past
The door isn’t closed on Jadeveon Clowney’s return to the Seahawks.
The opening is just narrower than it was back at the beginning of April, and by narrower I mean “less lucrative.”
This is not to diminish the significance of what Clowney said to Mark Berman, a Houston television reporter with FOX 26. It is, however, to provide some context because all signs point to Seattle having less to offer Clowney now than it did back at the beginning of April when it was earnestly pushing to re-sign him.
Oops. Sorry. Got ahead of myself. I was going to tell you about all the nice things Clowney said about the Seahawks this week.
“I love Seattle when I was there this past year,” Clowney said. “I loved everybody on the coaching staff. I wouldn’t trade them guys in. I hope we can work something out. If anything did happen, I did like it up there.”
Free agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (@clownejd) working at @PlexAthlete in Houston: “Whoever I sign with is gonna get the best version of me..I know what I got to do to get where I need to get.” (Hasn’t ruled out the @Seahawks): “I love Seattle..I love everybody on the coaching staff” pic.twitter.com/Al0dbbKQcG
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) May 6, 2020
The Seahawks liked him, too. It’s why the Seahawks sought to re-sign him. In fact, after the draft Seattle general manager John Schneider made specific mention of the extent of Seattle’s efforts in that regard when he talked to us at 710 ESPN Seattle.
“We gave that a go several times,” Schneider said, “and he’s just in a position where he wasn’t ready to make a decision, and that’s fine. But we’ve got to keep going and conducting business.”
In other words, Seattle has already started spending as if Clowney won’t be on the team. Specifically, the Seahawks spent on Benson Mayowa, signing him to a one-year deal back in the first week of April that will pay him $3 million.
Does that rule out the possibility Seattle could still add Clowney? No.
It doesn’t mean Seattle chose Mayowa instead of Clowney, either. What it means is that Seattle felt it wasn’t going to wait indefinitely for Clowney to see if he got a better offer, in the meantime seeing other pass-rush options evaporate.
In layman’s terms: What Seattle has spent already this offseason will impact what it’s willing to offer Clowney if the two sides discuss a contract again. Brady Henderson – who covers the Seahawks for ESPN.com – made this very clear in a Tweet.
On Jadeveon Clowney, my understanding is he would have to take significantly less money than what the Seahawks previously offered him in order for a reunion to happen. The team hasn't shut the door entirely on Clowney, but bringing him back isn't considered likely at this point.
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) May 6, 2020
In other words: Seattle’s offer has already gotten worse. At least that was what the Seahawks indicated to Clowney.
Now, I’ve covered professional sports long enough to know that contract negotiations can always change course, and what looks like a line in the sand might be more like a bargaining tactic.
If it was a bargaining tactic, Clowney hasn’t budged and he’s willing to wait and see if another team might have a better offer once NFL teams re-open their facilities and can examine his knee and recovery from abdominal surgery.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks have made it clear that they’re not waiting to see what he decides. They’ve moved on, and while that doesn’t preclude the possibility of future discussions between the two, it also doesn’t mean the Seahawks will pick up right where they left off in terms of their last offer to Clowney.