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Clayton: Why it’s wrong to think the Seahawks can’t compete without Clowney

Is the Seahawks' 2020 offseason really "Jadeveon Clowney or bust"? (AP)

It seems everywhere you go, the evaluation of the 2020 Seattle Seahawks all about Jadeveon Clowney or bust.

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Clowney is the best player who hasn’t been signed and is nowhere close to getting a deal. The way things are shaping up in the NFL is that the NFLPA is going to get players get back to their teams before June 26 when the offseason programs end.

The NFLPA, for the safety of its players during the pandemic, would rather wait for players to return at the start of training camp. Team physicians aren’t allowed to give physicals and no team other than Seattle would sign Clowney without giving him a physical.

General manager John Schneider has left the door open for Clowney’s return. Clowney remains interested in coming back. He liked the players, the coaches and the team’s chances of getting to a Super Bowl. If he does return, the Seahawks would have to cut about $10 million of players’ salaries, but he would be worth it.

Clowney’s return would enhance the Seahawks’ Super Bowl chances. The simplistic mistakes people are making is thinking the Seahawks can’t compete on defense without him.

Go back a year. What did the Seahawks really have on the defensive line? You can say that had Ziggy Ansah, but they really didn’t. He was sidelined until mid-August coming off shoulder surgery. He didn’t get on the field until late August, so the Seahawks were without their top two projected defensive end starters. The Clowney trade was right before the start of the  season.

That means until late-August, they didn’t have Clowney or Ansah. Both didn’t really have an offseason program or a training camp. Then you add defensive tackle Jarren Reed was heading into a six-game suspension at the start of the season.

If you total up sack numbers heading into last season of Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quentin Jefferson, Brandon Jackson, Cassius Marsh, Rasheem Green and Jamie Meder entered last year with 24.5 career sacks. Marsh and Meder didn’t make the team. That left a group of linemen with 11 career sacks work with Ansah and Clowney.

Benson Mayowa comes back to the Seahawks with 20 career sacks. Bruce Irvin has 52. The Seahawks have two draft choices – Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson.

The other thing to consider is that all but Clowney on last year’s roster are considered the five-technique at defensive end. That’s the end who can play on the edge on early downs and go in as a defensive tackle on passing downs. Clowney was good at Leo, but his lack of sacks and great ability to disrupt on the pass rush and great ability to stop the run puts him as a great five technique.

At this time, the Seahawks have more balance of five techniques and Leo’s, which should lead to more sacks and pressure. Maybe it’s not great, but it’s a more talented group than a year ago.

Plus the team has Jarran Reed for 16 games. In the meantime, they can still wait for Clowney, but it’s not a Clowney or bust team.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.

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