Seahawks finalize their 53-man roster, but it doesn’t include Jadeveon Clowney. He leaves a hole in the defense that they haven’t filled through a long off-season.
Apparently the charm of Pete Carroll, Seattle, the Seahawks and Allen family wealth has its limits. DE Jadeveon Clowney is joining the Tennessee Titans, according to ESPN.
The Seahawks released their 53-man roster Saturday absent Clowney, who gave the Seahawks a good but not great year in 2019 and escaped into free agency, his longtime goal.
Media speculation had the Saints in nearly a dead heat with the Titans, but late Saturday an ESPN tweet reported Clowney finally made up his mind.
Jadeveon Clowney just informed me he just let the #Saints know he’s now chosen the #Titans. New Orleans made a last ditch push through the overnight to improve its deal & lure him away, but “it came down to familiarity over economics.” Added “packing now to head there in morning”
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 6, 2020
Because of an abdominal injury that required surgery, neither the Seahawks nor anyone else wanted to pay him at the top of the market for rush ends, about $20 million annually. Clowney, according to ESPN, settled on $12 million for a single year to join Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who coached him when both were with Houston.
The Seahawks had about $14.8 million in cap space after restructuring Friday the $2.1 million contract of WR David Moore, suggesting that a move to accommodate a larger contract was imminent.
Wasn’t for Clowney.
It could be for someone else, however. The Saturday cut from 80 was the first of the preseason shrunk by NFL compromises to avoid COVID-19, which will eliminate fans from the stands in at least 25 stadiums for the regular season that starts Thursday.
The Seahawks have a tidy history of working out early-season trades after other teams assess whether they are contenders or pretenders. Without Clowney, they have a hole in the defensive line they have filled with mostly with pebbles and not rocks.
Besides not getting Clowney, they are already down two from the initial plan.
DE Branden Jackson, who was knocked out in a mock game last month, after which doctors discovered a neck condition that threatens his career, was put on injured reserve. Rookie second-round draft pick DE Darrell Taylor was put on six-week injured reserve after failing to recover fully from a Jan. 30 surgery to install a rod in his broken shin.
After also losing underrated DE Quinton Jefferson in free agency, GM John Schneider attempted to compensate with the hires of two former Seahawks, Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa.
They did well in practice, according to Carroll, but the Seahawks were insecure enough about their depth to sign Thursday Damontre Moore, a 305-pounder out of Texas A&M, who at 27 is on his seventh team, including a second time with the Seahawks (four games games in 2016), with nary a start.
“He really has a chance to help us right now,” Carroll said. “Without Darrell Taylor for a little bit longer, we needed another guy in the rotation. Damontre has always impressed me with his effort and his chase of the football. He’s got a great motor. I’ve always liked that about him.”
The Seahawks need more help to fix a pass rush that produced 28 sacks, tied for second-fewest in the NFL.
The best in-house option may be rookie fifth-rounder Alton Robinson of Syracuse, who was impressive throughout camp. He said added 15 pounds of muscle to compete with Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier for the five-technique spot.
“It’s helped him,” Carroll said of Robinson’s weight. “He’s a powerful rusher. He already has good finesse and good moves and understands how to play on the edge. But you can see him break the edge down some, because he’s stronger than some of the faster, sleeker guys that are weighing in the 250s.
“He’s run in the 4.6s. You put the whole package together and he’s done well.”
The Seahawks are scouring the waiver wire for help. The practice squad, up to 16 this year from 10 a year ago, will be formed Sunday. They may find talents around the league who were cut that will bump several of Saturday’s survivors.
Here’s how it looks at the moment:
Quarterback (2): Russell Wilson, Geno Smith.
Running back (4): Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer. Rashaad Penny (PUP).
Receiver (6): Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, John Ursua, Freddie Swain, Phillip Dorsett. Josh Gordon (suspended).
Tight end (4): Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson. Colby Parkinson (PUP).
Offensive line (10): Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis, Brandon Shell, Jamarco Jones, Cedric Ogbuehi, B.J. Finney, Phil Haynes, Jordan Simmons.
Defensive line (10): Benson Mayowa, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, Bryan Mone, Alton Robinson, Bruce Irvin, Damontre Moore. Darrell Taylor (PUP).
Linebacker (5): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven.
Cornerback (6): Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Quinton Dunbar, Neiko Thorpe, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi.
Safety (3): Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Lano Hill.
Specialists (3): K Jason Myers, P Michael Dickson, LS Tyler Ott
Among the notable veterans who didn’t survive the cut, but may return if they go unclaimed on waivers, were LB/DE Shaquem Griffin, WR Paul Richardson and FB Nick Bellore.
Indeed, Sunday Griffin was one of 14 players who were signed to the practice squad, which has 16 spots this season.
Along with twin brother Shaquill, the tandem was a popular story locally and nationally after Shaquem became the NFL’s first one-handed player. But his 230 pounds aren’t enough for an NFL pass-rusher, and he’s yet to find a way to make his speed productive.
Richardson, Seattle’s second-round pick in 2014, was signed earlier this week to one-year deal for up to $1 million. But he had little practice time and didn’t look ready. Once new signee Josh Gordon returns from suspension (date unknown), the Seahawks will have a good third receiver.
Overall, the unique absences of many practices in spring and summer and four exhibition games have hampered every team’s confidence level when it comes to roster building.
All clubs also lost the ability to scout other teams’ talent by reviewing exhibition-game video. So it may be that more than any other season, teams will stick with what they have now — even if they’re not sure what they have.
“We haven’t had enough competition at this time of the year to really make the evaluations the way we’d like to,” Carroll said. “We’d like to have all those game snaps, and we’ve told you many times, you’ve got to wait to see guys in games. We weren’t afforded that in the evaluation process.
“So that’s the only setback. Other than that it’s been a really solid camp.”
So if you are fond of the minute details of football’s personnel evaluations, keep maintaining the shrug you’ve developed over the past few weeks. It will serve you well in the next few weeks.