With the opening round of the NFL Draft set to begin in less than 12 hours, everyone is still waiting on the edge of their seat for a decision from defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
The high profile pass rusher was expected to be one of the top free agents available on the open market this offseason. But the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly hurt his market, preventing him from traveling and getting a physical at team facilities.
Based on Clowney’s notable injury history and his inability to produce double-digit sacks throughout his career, any potential suitors have avoided handing the three-time Pro Bowler a mega-deal this offseason. As a result, the 6-foot-5 defensive end has endured a very disappointing free-agent market and doesn't look close to making a decision.
While things haven’t gone as planned for Clowney, there’s still an outside chance he could return to the Pacific Northwest next season. Despite the additions already made to Seattle’s defensive line, general manager John Schneider admitted during his virtual press conference on Tuesday he and his staff will remain open minded about a potential return for the former No. 1 overall pick.
"We made an effort to re-sign him. We'd still - the door is not closed, but we couldn't wait any longer. We had to conduct business, and so he knew that,” Schneider discussed. “He just is going to kind of feel his way through this odd process, and we'll see where that goes.”
Along with these comments from Schneider, coach Pete Carroll echoed a similar response regarding Clowney’s potential future in Seattle and also mentioned the lack of visitation with potential suitors has definitely forced a few players, including the star defensive end, to wait around on the free agent market.
"We'll see if Clowney comes back around or not. We don't know, we'll find out in time,” Carroll detailed. “We'll see where he is when he's ready to make a decision. Things have changed a little bit. Guys haven't been able to travel around and get to places and visit and stuff like that, so there's a number of guys that have kind of taken [the approach that], I'm going to wait and see what happens, buy some time here.”
Earlier this spring, multiple reports suggested that Clowney was seeking a long-term deal that would net him north of $20 million per season. Just a few weeks ago, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that the South Carolina graduate had lowered his asking price to $17-$18 million per season.
On Wednesday, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network joined 3HL’s podcast to discuss a range of topics, including Clowney’s latest contract demands and how he’s “been his own worst enemy” throughout this offseason.
“The Seattle Seahawks tried to reach out to him about bringing him back. I’m told he was very uncooperative with the Seahawks. He started off with a ridiculous sum of money that he wanted, he’s come down on that,” Pauline said. “I’m told from his inner circle, it’s down to $13 million a year."
“There are teams concerned about his medicals, people are concerned that once he signs a huge contract, he’s going to turn it off because he’s going to have all this guaranteed money.”
While it’s unclear if that price is accurate, it seems like Clowney is determined to wait as long as possible until he receives a satisfying offer. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess as to where the former first-round selection will land this offseason, but it appears that the Seahawks, Titans, and Jets all remain in the running.
For Seattle, bringing Clowney back for a second season in blue and green would make a ton of sense, if the price is right. It’s possible that Schneider and his staff could reignite contract talks with the former Texan at some point, especially if they can't land a quality pass rusher early in the draft.
While a return to Seattle seems unlikely, Schneider has shown on multiple occasions nothing is impossible and that mindset could help bring Clowney back for another season. If this occurs, the disgruntled free agent would likely be more willing to sign a one-year deal and hope to rebuild his value to cash in next offseason.