Still sifting through disappointing offers, Jadeveon Clowney's future remains undetermined and the star defensive end may consider taking a one-year contract to build his value for another run at a market-setting contract in 2021.
Entering free agency, Clowney expected to command north of $20 million per year as one of the top edge defenders available. Per sources, the Seahawks began negotiating with his agent at the NFL Scouting Combine and initially offered him $18.5 million on a multi-year deal, but no teams have been willing to approach that threshold to this point.
The multi-year offer remains on the table, though several factors may ultimately bring down the price for extending Clowney, including a lack of other teams interested.
Suitors are concerned about Clowney's past injury history, including microfracture surgery on his knee back in 2014, and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have prevented teams from conducting physicals at their own facilities. His lack of sack production has also contributed to a lukewarm market for a player who expected to land a lucrative, top-of-the-market deal.
As a result, Clowney and his camp are now considering one-year offers from interested teams, which would allow him to hit the market again in 2021. This complicates matters for Seattle and helps explain why this process continues to linger into the second week of free agency.
General manager John Schneider and the Seahawks would prefer a long-term deal to be able to spread out salary cap hits on a back-loaded contract. Signing Clowney to a one-year pact wouldn't allow them to do that, and as a result, sources indicate they're offering him substantially less money for cap-related reasons.
As confirmed by Jake Heaps of ESPN 710, per a report from The Pick 6, the parameters of such a deal could be in the ballpark of $13-14 million per year, well below expected market price. How did we reach this point?
Looking at Seattle's perspective, this rationale makes a great deal of sense. Why would Schneider give Clowney close to $20 million in 2020 just to wind up in the same position trying to lock him up long-term next year? In essence, it would be a franchise tag for even more money, something the organization didn't plan for financially, especially considering how few teams are competing against them.
Comparatively, Clowney's viewpoint is also understandable. He waited six years to finally hit free agency and yet, he hasn't received near the interest he anticipated. Fully healthy again, if he could produce similar numbers to 2017 and 2018 when he approached double digit sacks, he certainly would draw better offers next March.
But there's also a lot more risk involved for Clowney than whoever signs him under these circumstances. What if he gets hurt again? Or if he posts pedestrian sack numbers for a second straight year? Then, he will be a year older and still in the same position this time next year with a lukewarm market.
Clowney's hesitance to sign a deal has left the Seahawks in limbo. They've been waiting for him to make a decision, which has prevented them from allocating free agent dollars elsewhere, leaving the team in a major bind if he decides to leave.
Aside from Everson Griffen, most of the other quality veteran pass rushers have already been swept up in free agency. Losing Clowney to the Titans, Jets, or another reported suitor could force Schneider to reconsider trading valuable draft capital for Yannick Ngakoue or Matt Judon, who each received the franchise tag.
This has also negatively impacted Clowney, as many potential suitors have already signed or traded for defensive line help over the past week. The leverage now lies with the teams trying to sign him, yet another reason he's receiving underwhelming offers and per NBC's Mike Florio, his camp may be trying to drum up interest this weekend by sending signals the Seahawks are close to signing him.
For now, Seattle remains hopeful Clowney will opt to return, but there's still plenty of tug of war left to be played. He can't reasonably expect top dollar on a one-year deal and as much as they love the player, the Seahawks certainly won't be the team to give it to him, so the next 24-48 hours will be very interesting as he weighs his options.