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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ chances with Jadeveon Clowney still murky following draft

UPDATED: Mon., April 27, 2020

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, left, talks with general manager John Schneider before a game against Arizona in 2018. Following the draft, Carroll and Schneider gave somewhat conflicting answers regarding the team’s pursuit of free agent Jadeveon Clowney (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, left, talks with general manager John Schneider before a game against Arizona in 2018. Following the draft, Carroll and Schneider gave somewhat conflicting answers regarding the team’s pursuit of free agent Jadeveon Clowney (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

First, John Schneider talked, and I was convinced Jadeveon Clowney’s days in Seattle were over.

“I’ll just put it out there,” the Seahawks GM said. “He was amazing this past year. We were in negotiations with his agent for a long time, and at some point, you need to move on and keep conducting business. It’s not Jadeveon’s fault, it’s nobody’s fault. You have to keep moving or you’re going to get beat.”

This was in response to a question about whether the Pro Bowl defensive end, who is currently a free agent, might return to the Seahawks. Before the draft, Schneider said that the team wasn’t shutting the door on anything, a phrase he repeated Saturday.

But the reality is that Seattle picked up two defensive ends in free agency (Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa), selected two defensive ends in the draft (Darrell Taylor in the second round and Alton Robinson in the fifth) and have Rasheem Green (last year’s team leader in sacks) and L.J. Collier (last year’s first round draft pick) on the roster. So it kind of seems like the Seahawks have reached capacity when it comes to that position.

Then, Pete Carroll talked, and now I don’t know what to think.

“(Clowney) is kind of patient with the time frames that are out there and all that. But he knows that the Seahawks are a place that he had some success and that he had a really good time and he contributed a lot to our club,” Carroll said. “That’s a pretty good feeling for him being out there still. John will take care of it. If there’s an opportunity that makes sense, we’ll dive back in and pursue it.”

How are you feeling if you’re a Seahawks fan after this draft? Do you think the team’s primary needs were addressed?

The most glaring hole going into the offseason was the pass rush, as Seattle was 29th in the NFL in sacks last year and 26th in total defense. And those numbers came with Clowney, whom the Seahawks picked up last August in the offseason’s biggest heist.

Are you confident the inability to get to the quarterback won’t hurt them again next season? Because I’m not sure I am.

Yes, Irvin had 8 1/2 sacks in 13 games for the Panthers last year, but that was a career high. And the Seahawks were without Jarran Reed for the first six games of the season in 2019, but he had just two sacks for the rest of the year.

Maybe Taylor or Robinson turns out to be Carroll and Schneider’s next big find. They have a history of discovering Hall of Fame-caliber players in the later rounds of the draft. But assuming a second and fifth-round pick don’t end up as world beaters, there is still a void at defensive end.

I doubt Clowney makes a decision on his next destination until teams are able to conduct physicals. The uncertainty of his health has likely played into his market value dipping well below what he was expecting next season.

Remember, this is a guy who was the No. 1 recruit in the nation out of high school, the No. 1 pick in the draft, and a Pro Bowler in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Clowney isn’t accustomed to being anything but one the most coveted players in his sport. He likely won’t sign a contract until he knows for certain that he can’t get more money.

In the meantime, the Seahawks still feel incomplete. They have added four defensive ends since their season ended, but probably need one more difference maker at that position to contend for a title.

There’s a reason top pass rushers are second only to top quarterbacks when it comes to salary. Teams that can get to the QB win — teams that don’t do not.

Realists should probably look at Schneider’s comments as an accurate depiction of Clowney’s future. It’s hard to think he is coming back to Seattle.

But optimists should zero in on Carroll’s comments. Clowney is still available, and the Seahawks still need him.

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