2020 free agency chatter

It sounds like Jadeveon Clowney might be waiting out the pandemic, hoping for a better offer when teams are able to check out his physical condition.

Clowney reportedly wants more than $20 million a year, but it sounds like he never was offered more than $18.5 million (if that), with the latest reports indicating the Seahawks have offered around $13.5 million for a couple of years.

With the pandemic affecting his ability to show his health and get him the deal he wants, Clowney reportedly was weighing one-year offers.

Whatever the offer right now, the Seahawks are still waiting. Per SI.com’s Corbin Smith, a couple of other teams are still in the mix (Tennessee is thought to be one), but the Seahawks appear to be “in the driver’s seat.”

There were mixed reports on what the Seahawks offered. Early in free agency, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported they had offered something on the “next tier below” Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald. Those guys average around $23 million a year, and the Seahawks were thought to have offered $18.5 million.

But Peter King reported: “Seattle will wait for the price to go down on Jadeveon Clowney; and, if it does, the Seahawks very much want him.”

On 710 ESPN on March 20, John Clayton said Clowney’s market had dipped under $15 million, possibly as low as $13 million. And Jake Heaps, the former Seahawks QB who also works for 710 ESPN, vouched for a similar report.

Whatever the offer, it clearly has not been satisfactory to Clowney, who might just ride out the pandemic until he can show teams he is worthy of better.

We are still waiting on numbers for Bruce Irvin, but we already know this: Seattle’s cap space has dwindled to the point where the club will need to start cutting players soon.

We have the cap hits for tackles Brandon Shell ($3.475 million) and Cedric Ogbuehi ($2.3 million). Add Quinton Dunbar’s $3.4 million and an expected net hit of $3 million to $5 million for Irvin and Phillip Dorsett, and Seattle is down to as little as $8 million in cap space, per OverTheCap.

Later this year, about $8 million will be needed for rookie bonuses, practice squad and 2020 injury replacements. So the functional cap space is close to nothing.

The Hawks can easily add about $15 million by cutting Justin Britt, Ed Dickson, Tedric Thompson (being shopped for trade) and Nick Bellore and by dropping $1 million off the salaries of tendered RFAs David Moore, Joey Hunt and Branden Jackson.

Britt seems likely to be let go with a “failed physical” designation (as Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril and Richard Sherman were). Waiting until May would allow him to receive an injury protection payout. If they save Britt to cover the $8 million they will need after the draft, the Hawks still have easy access to $15 million right now, via those other moves.

One other way they can add space is by converting some of Russell Wilson’s $18 million salary to a bonus, which could free as much as $16.95 million in room — although any amount they stole from this year’s cap count would be spread over his future cap hits.

As the Hawks continue to fill other positions, they might need some help from the QB if they are going to add the impact pass rusher(s) they desperately need.

More on pass rushers

Everson Griffen’s market is expected to be possibly as low as $8 million. If so, Seattle should be in on that. They could structure it in a way that he took up as little as $5 million.

Minnesota apparently lowballed him, because Griffen said goodbye to Vikings fans on March 20. Griffen is expected to sign after Clowney does, as he is Plan B for several teams — including Seattle.

Per Smith of SI.com, the Hawks have indeed touched base with Griffen’s agent. They also have talked to Baltimore about Matt Judon, who is considered a possible trade target if the Hawks cannot keep Clowney. One source told Smith the Ravens might take a second-rounder for Judon.

John Schneider has spoken with Jacksonville about franchise player Yannick Ngakoue as well, so he has covered all of the bases on the top pass rushers still possibly available. Now, which one will he end up with?

The Hawks did add one pass rusher, bringing back Irvin, their 2012 first-round pick.

Since leaving Seattle in 2016, Irvin has tallied 29.5 sacks — including a career-best 8.5 for Carolina last season.

Irvin, 32, is happy to be returning:

Other signings

Somewhat surprisingly, the Seahawks managed to keep Jarran Reed, paying him $23 million over two years.

Based on the early deals for defensive tackles, Reed knew he wasn’t going to break the bank. The top contract was Javon Hargrave’s three-year, $39 million deal with Philadelphia. Michael Brockers got $10 million a year to stay with the Rams after a deal with Baltimore fell through, and David Onyemata got $9 million APY to stay in New Orleans.

Reed had said $10 million would be “disrespectfully low,” but he got a bit more to stay and rehab his value over the next two years. The Seahawks clearly are hoping to see the 2018 version of Reed.

He will get $14.5 million in 2020 if he plays in every game. He got a $10 million signing bonus and salaries of $4.1 million in 2020 and $8.075 million in 2021. He also has $2.3 million in game bonuses and sack incentives, so the deal could be worth almost $25 million.

The Seahawks looked to solve an issue at cornerback, trading a fifth-round pick to Washington for Quinton Dunbar.

Dunbar (6-2, 201) had four interceptions in 11 starts for Washington last season (his season was cut short by a hamstring injury). The 27-year-old, set to make $3.25 million in 2020, had asked for a trade or his release, due to displeasure with his contract.

He could push Tre Flowers for a starting job. Also, Shaquill Griffin is in the final year of his contract, so Dunbar (also in a contract year) perhaps gives Seattle another option there.

Former Pittsburgh reserve B.J. Finney signed a two-year deal worth $8 million (and up to $9.5 million). Finney can play every interior spot, but he seems likely to replace Britt at center.

The Hawks also have replaced Germain Ifedi and George Fant with Shell and Ogbuehi. Shell, who started for the Jets the past three years, got $11 million over two years — presumably to play right tackle. He basically swaps teams with Fant, who was given $9 million a year by the Jets. Ifedi signed with Chicago.

Clowney, Shell’s former teammate at South Carolina, reportedly told the tackle he would enjoy playing for Pete Carroll.

Ogbuehi is coming on a one-year, $2.3 million deal. The former Cincinnati first-rounder figures to be the swing backup tackle and possibly fill Fant’s sixth-man role.

Shell’s arrival means Jamarco Jones can stay at left guard, which means Finney can head to center (where the team lists him) and Britt can head out. The Hawks got Finney (counting $3.5 million) and Shell for less than the $8.5 million they can save off cutting Britt.

The Seahawks added speedster Phillip Dorsett to compete for the third receiver spot.

The former first-rounder has had a disappointing career, never catching more than 33 passes in a season. He caught 29 for New England last year. He’s basically a deep-ball receiver.

Dorsett told ESPN’s Josina Anderson: “Seattle felt like the best opportunity to be the player I know I can be as a WR. I spoke to Russell Wilson on face time while he was working out. Shows you his work ethic. That got me extra excited. I think overall it’s just right for me.”

Chance Warmack, who didn’t play in 2019, was the fourth O-lineman signed by Seattle in the past few days. It’s just a flyer on a once-talented player, and he won’t even affect the salary cap (vet-minimum players count just $750,000, which is the bottom of Seattle’s roster right now anyway).

Warmack, the 10th pick in the 2013 draft, is the seventh player among the top 13 in that bad draft that the Seahawks have had on their team. D.J. Fluker, picked at No. 11, is still on the team. Others who have come through Seattle and not offered much: No. 2 Luke Joeckel, No. 3 Dion Jordan, No. 5 Ziggy Ansah, No. 6 Barkevious Mingo and No. 13 Sheldon Richardson. The Hawks also had Geno Smith, the 39th overall pick, last year.

As expected, the Seahawks tendered Jacob Hollister at the second-round level ($3.26 million), and you can expect him to play an even bigger role than he did in 2019 — because Will Dissly is recovering from another major leg injury and Greg Olsen, 34, likely won’t be available for every game.

Seattle also tendered Moore, Hunt and Jackson. For now, they all are tied to the team for $2.13 million each. But you probably can expect them to reduce their salaries at some point this spring, if they want to stay with Seattle. The Hawks often do that with backup RFAs.

Luke Willson indicated he will be returning as well, which is what Schneider had said at the Combine. Willson will add camp depth as Dissly recovers and Olsen takes it easy until the season starts. If Dissly comes back healthy, though, it is tough to see Willson sticking — Seattle almost never keeps four tight ends.

The Seahawks signed Olsen to a one-year deal worth up to $7 million, including $5.5 million guaranteed.

Olsen, who turned 35 on March 11, has battled injuries in recent seasons, but he caught 52 passes last season for a Carolina team that played without Cam Newton most of the way.

“It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Olsen told Seahawks.com. “Their track record of success, consistency of winning. I’ve played in this city many times, and just the fan base, the excitement, that stadium is one of the more unique venues in all of sports. And obviously Coach Carroll, playing with somebody like Russell, it just checks so many boxes I was looking for, and I’m confident I can just come in and do my part and help try to put (us) over the edge.”

Departures

Fant got his wish: He will get to start at left tackle after agreeing to a three-year, $30 million deal with the Jets. He likely will replace free agent Kelvin Beachum.

After Detroit paid former Philly backup tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai $10 million a year, it seemed clear Fant would get paid, too.

Ifedi figured to get similar money, but he ended up signing a disappointing one-year deal with Chicago.

Quinton Jefferson also said his goodbyes, as expected. He was destined to have a good market and reportedly had garnered interest from several teams. He signed a two-year, $13.5 million deal with Buffalo.

Al Woods signed with Jacksonville for $2.75 million. He was not expected back in Seattle, which still figures to look for a cheap veteran to rotate with Reed and Poona Ford.

Reunion talk

There have been plenty of calls for the Seahawks to bring back Michael Bennett, the mercurial former star pass rusher. Bennett, 34, apparently wants to play a 12th NFL season, and he recently said he would like to return to Seattle.

“I would love to end my career in Seattle,” he told NBC Sports Northwest. “It’s not up to you, though. It’s up to the team.”

It’s hard to see Carroll wanting the temperamental Bennett back, especially after the coach has carefully re-crafted his locker room culture around Wilson and Bobby Wagner.

But don’t rule out Marshawn Lynch returning, according to Mike Silver of NFL Media. Lynch, 33, could join the team again — though it would be toward the end of training camp.

The Seahawks need some extra backs, with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny both coming off injuries. The team reportedly has talked to Isaiah Crowell. Alex Collins is thought to be a decent candidate to return to Seattle, too.

At defensive tackle, former Seahawk Brandon Mebane was cut by the Chargers. The 35-year-old Mebane spent the past four seasons with the Chargers after nine with Seattle; would Carroll want to bring him back?

As expected, Washington released Paul Richardson, who continued his injury-prone ways in two overpaid seasons with the Redskins. He seems unlikely to return because Seattle added Dorsett instead.

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