When the Seattle Seahawks acquired defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney in a trade with the Houston Texans last offseason, it was an undeniable steal. Two replaceable veterans and a third-round draft pick? That was a price the Seahawks were more than willing to meet -- and they surely wouldn't have been the only ones.
The main reason Clowney was even made available by the Texans in the first place, however, was the fact that he was entering the final year of his contract. Though one could argue Clowney has yet to live up to the lofty expectations he entered the league with as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, there was no question that he would command a huge salary on his next deal.
The Seahawks were willing to take the risk that the Texans were not, and now, Seattle might be paying the price -- whether they pay up or not.
Clowney remains unsigned thus far in NFL free agency, and though he reportedly lowered his asking price to $17 or $18 million annually (down from $20 million) last week, it sounds increasingly likely that he'll be playing elsewhere next season.
NFL Media's Mike Garafolo joined 950 KJR in Seattle on Tuesday, and expressed significant doubt that Clowney would re-sign with Seattle.
The chances of Clowney returning as a Seahawk?— 950 KJR (@SportsRadioKJR) April 7, 2020
"Idk if he's going to be back in Seattle. The chances are slim to none."
"I don't know if he's going to be back in Seattle," Garafolo said. "The chances are slim to none."
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Things can always change, but it would appear Clowney's time with the Seahawks has come to an end -- unless he continues to lower his salary demands. According to Spotrac, Seattle currently has about $14.6 million in available cap space, and they just signed Benson Mayowa -- who plays the same position -- to a one-year, $3 million contract. Obviously, there are ways for the Seahawks to open up additional cap space, but in any event, the numbers are going to be tight.
And, if the Seahawks don't bring Clowney back, there simply aren't many big names left at his position at this stage of free agency. Disgruntled and franchise-tagged Jacksonville Jaguars pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue would be a logical trade target, but it would be like doing the Clowney trade all over again. Only in that hypothetical scenario, the Seahawks wouldn't be able to use the assets that they sent to the Texans, and who's to say that Jacksonville wouldn't ask for far more in return? And then they'd still have to pay Ngakoue a huge salary, too.
Ultimately, if Clowney departs in free agency, that would be a huge blow to the Seahawks, and frankly, would make it impossible to label Seattle's offseason a success. That has to be keeping general manager John Schneider up at night.
Meanwhile, the 49ers won't lose one ounce of sleep if Clowney leaves the NFC West.