Even in the wake of the Jamal Adams trade, the Seahawks still have a void along their defensive line. Seattle entered the offseason with its biggest priority being to improve the pass rush.
The team has done that to a degree, but Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa and a pair of rookies aren’t a lock to improve the league’s second-worst pass rush in 2019. Simply put, the Seahawks still need a premier guy or, at the very least, another proven veteran in the rotation.
NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported on Thursday that the Seahawks have moved on from their pursuit of Jadeveon Clowney and shifted their focus to Everson Griffen and Clay Matthews. Silver went as far as to say that “a move could come pretty quickly.”
With Jadeveon Clowney out of the picture, the @Seahawks are looking at veteran free agents Clay Matthews and Everson Griffen as pash-rushing options and could make a move soon. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/LKrxvl7FSC— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 6, 2020
As we head into the weekend, it makes sense to get ahead of this and share comprehensive thoughts as to how either player would impact Seattle’s roster.
Both players were highly productive in 2019. Griffen was a Pro Bowler in 2019 with 8.0 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss. Matthews also managed to collect 8.0 sacks in his lone season with the Rams.
Matthews is older than Griffen (34-32) but was actually more productive on a per snap basis. According to Alistair Corp, Matthews had a pressure rate of 14.3% on 258 snaps. The benefit of Griffen, however, is his ability to rush from the inside in addition to off the edge.
I was quite surprised at his numbers, obviously he was in a great situation as far as talent around him but he had a pressure rate of 14.3 on 258 snaps, which is damn good— Alistair Corp (@byalistaircorp) August 6, 2020
Both players would take all the pressure off rookies Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, who would then be able to be eased into the lineup over the course of the season as they got up to speed. A pass rush of Irvin, Mayowa, Jarran Reed, Adams, Rasheem Green and Matthews/Griffen should be deep enough to improve upon Seattle’s meager 28 sacks in 2019. That’s before you add in any potential impact of Taylor and Robinson. Again, the additional benefit of Griffen would be eliminating the necessity that Seattle gets anything out of L.J. Collier.
It is important to touch on Clowney real quick. Even with Silver’s report, there’s still no reason to believe that the door is completely closed on Clowney’s return to Seattle. There will always be a chance that he rejoins the Seahawks until the moment he signs with another team or flat out says that he doesn’t want to be in Seattle.
Even with players opting out around the league and team’s having some increased cap space, there’s no guarantee that any club ever meets Clowney’s demands. If the money is mostly equal across the board, Seattle arguably gives him the greatest chance to recoup his value and cash in as a free agent in 2021. The Seahawks have a vastly improved supporting cast around him at all three levels of the defense. That would likely minimize an opponent’s ability to double him. His familiarity and stated fondness for the city of Seattle, his teammates and the organization as a whole make the Seahawks a logical fit.
Clowney should remain Option A for John Schneider and Pete Carroll. However, adding Griffen or Matthews would still check the last remaining item off Seattle’s offseason to-do list and would make the Seahawks a legit Super Bowl contender.