BY Art Thiel 08:33PM 09/05/2020

Thiel: Clowney a Titan, Hawks add back Shaquem

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.

DE Alton Robinson was among the top surprises in camp. / Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks

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.

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.


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  • Alan Harrison

    Not surprised to see them waive Shaquem Griffin. He’s a marvel in so many ways, but just doesn’t have a place, it would seem. An edge rusher in a safety’s body. Lots of ex-Hawks now on the waiver wire. Interested to see if the Carrollesque notion of getting the band back together happens after players clear waivers. Oh, and no great linemen on either side of the ball, so what we’ve got is what we’ve got.

    • Bruce McDermott

      On the OL, Duane Brown is at worst a very solid player. Lewis shows good signs of becoming one. The jury is well out on the talent/durability of everybody else.

      • art thiel

        Yes. I will suggest to OC Schotts to take your advice and give Wilson pass plays of three steps or less for the season’s first half. Don’t even roll him out.

        • Chris Alexander

          I vote for starting Geno Smith and then bringing Russ in for the 4th quarter – after the defense is worn down a bit.

          (tongue firmly in cheek)

          • art thiel

            Kinda like MLB’s one-inning “opener.” Hard to win the MVP without starting though.

    • art thiel

      Seahawks did claim LB D’Andre Walker off waivers from TN and plan to use him as a rusher. A fifth-rounder a year ago who sat out with an injury, he took the roster spot of CB Linden Stephens.

      • Chris Alexander

        If Seattle wants to continue their “reunion tour” – currently consisting of Irvin and Mayowa with a brief appearance by P-Rich and the eventual return of Josh Gordon (and maybe Britt), they could reach out to Brandon Mebane and then reach into San Francisco’s practice squad and grab Dion Jordan.

        Not sure either of them would improve the D-line much but at least they already know Seattle’s system and at worst they would add some affordable depth.

        • jafabian

          I was hoping they’d bring in Jermaine Kearse. He looks to be recovered from his broken leg he suffered last year since he posted online that he was out on a bike hike today.

        • art thiel

          I was worried you were going Joe Nash on me.

          • Archangelo Spumoni

            Heartburn Hardy?

  • Bruce McDermott

    It is very, very difficult to look at the current DL roster and see anything but an incoming disaster. No real depth at DT, and every one of our DEs would have a hard time starting on any other NFL team. As a unit last year, it was not good. Now, it has apparently lost the one player on that line who was capable of tilting the field as a disruptor.

    Robinson might surprise as a rare rookie who really contributes, Irvin can help, and Mayowa, who was essentially removed from the Raiders’ line-up last year as they pushed to make the playoffs, could possibly reincarnate as a legitimate every-down DE.

    I suppose anything is possible, but it appears that hope has become a large part of the plan here. That usually is not a good foundation for improvement.

    This is a very strange result coming from a team whose two-man brain trust identified pass rush as an extremely high off-season priority, and who also acknowledged that the run defense needed to be substantially improved.

    • art thiel

      As I mentioned above, the pass rush results will be improved by a better secondary. That’s where they committed defensive resources. I think Reed will bounce back, and Collier will be a contributor. But it’s true that the front office will have to improve a below-average unit with an in-season trade.

      • Bruce McDermott

        I know that’s the default answer, Art, but it is a bad football strategy.
        There is no substitute for a good pass rush, including a good secondary. A decent NFL QB can rip apart a good secondary with enough time. Pete and Schneider know it, too. What succeeds is what they built back in the salad days–a combination of line and secondary. This secondary may be good, but it is unlikely to be as good as the back 7 in the glory years, and even if it is, the current DL is a JV team in comparison to the DL back then.

        This is exactly why some of us had been urging you to ask Pete point blank “what’s the plan for improving the two weaknesses you and John identified in the offseason–pass rush and run defense?” Despite promises, that question was never asked, by you or anyone else.

        Now, when there is no typical “we are working on things, you will see” dodge from Pete, when “things” have been “worked on” and we know what we will have for the foreseeable future (and with almost no draft capital to make any significant mid-season addition), is the time to ask that question:

        “After last season, you and John both identified improving the pass rush and the run defense as the two most important defensive priorities for this team. How do you think you did on those priorities, and why?”

        • art thiel

          We all knew Clowney was still out there, until he wasn’t Saturday night.

          Thanks for letting me know how to do my job.

          • Bruce McDermott

            Art, I am doing no such thing. You said on these very website you would ask the question, and you did not. If and only if that is “telling you how to do your job,” then I plead guilty.

          • Bruce McDermott

            Art!! You did it!! Much obliged. Of course, Pete dodged the question in classic Pete fashion, but it felt good, at least to me, to hear him do it. He knows that the D-line is a question mark on pass rush, that much is now clear (if it wasn’t already). It is also a question mark on run defense, but c’est la vie.

            Anyway, I do appreciate your effort. I can now develop some other obsession–although once the season starts, it’s a different ballgame, when it becomes more about actual play, as opposed to guesses about what future play will look like…a change I definitely will enjoy, win or lose.

  • Husky73

    When last season ended, the #1 priority was to improve the pass rush. With the new season starting, the #1 priority is still to improve the pass rush. They have had from January to September to get that done.

    • BB46

      I believe they did improve the pass rush. But it is because the secondary is going to be far better and hopefully can actually cover people and allow the DL the needed time to pressure the passer.

      • art thiel

        Fair point. The pass rush is not just about a DL winning his one-on-one matchup. For example, having a talent like Blair as nickel means less need to drop an LB like Kendricks into coverage, as they did a lot last year. They tried to take pride in it, but it was a patch that denied them a blitz option.

        Regarding BBK, don’t get too excited. He’s still on the bubble, pending waiver acquisitions.

        • Husky73

          Shaquem is back!

  • jafabian

    The Hawks have upgraded almost every position except their biggest weakness from last season: linemen. For both sides of the ball. I’m wondering due to the shortcomings of the D-Line and the depth at LB if the Hawks might at times go with a 3-4 alignment instead of their usual 4-3.

    The Griffin brothers story was an inspiration the past couple seasons but that can’t be the reason for Shaquem to be on the team and it was obvious it just wasn’t happening. It would be best for his career to get a change of scenery at this point. Surprised Ursua was kept over Richardson though I’m sure he’ll be kept on John Schneider’s speed dial in case Josh Gordon has another relapse.

    Lost in all this is Justin Britt who was recently brought in. If he can return at some point he would upgrade the O-Line immensely.

    • art thiel

      They’re unlikely to shift to a 3-4. Too much disruption. And Shaquem went unclaimed and will be added to the practice squad. The brothers will be together, but the game-day roster spot will be upgraded.

      Richardson was simply not ready to play after the long layoff. It’s unknowable about Britt’s health, but if he were ready to contribute near his old level, logic suggests he would have been signed. This year he could be added to the practice squad.

      • Chris Alexander

        Signing Britt before cuts would have saved the team from paying his $1.2M injury settlement so the fact that they didn’t do it seems to indicate that he isn’t yet ready to contribute the way Seattle would need him to. My guess is that he’s a few weeks out yet and that he will eventually end up on the roster – either due to injury or a need to improve at center.

        • jafabian

          He posted ion Instagram that he was at SeaTac. Possibly to visit another team? If someone does sign him it will be with the understanding that he most likely will miss at least the first six weeks of the season because of his injury from last year.

          • Chris Alexander

            Apparently he (Britt) was on his way to Green Bay for a tryout. Haven’t heard yet if they signed him.

        • art thiel

          An O-line version of Lynch redux 2019.

  • Chris Alexander

    Some (I think) interesting thoughts and random notes:

    1. League-wide, only 17 players were claimed off waivers yesterday. The league average in years past was somewhere in the 40-50 range.

    2. The Saints apparently very nearly did a sign-and-trade deal FOR A FREE AGENT (Clowney) with reports indicating that another team (Team X) would have signed Clowney to a contract with a $5M signing bonus and a $10M base salary and then shipped him to the Saints in return for a 2nd round pick and a player (supposedly DT Sheldon Rankins). They ended up not pulling the trigger after learning that the league was unlikely to approve the deal.

    However, if they HAD pulled that off, the Saints would have ended up getting Clowney for a net cost of $2.31M (his $10M base salary minus Rankins’ $7.69M salary) + a 2nd round pick + a player. In return, Cleveland Team X would have spent $5M upfront in return for a 2nd round pick and a player. And Clowney would have gotten $15M cash vs. the $12M base + $3M in incentives he’s reportedly getting from Cleveland.

    I can see why the league would veto that, but …. what a crazy end to the Clowney saga THAT would have been.

    3. SIGH on the current state of Seattle’s defensive line.

    4. I suspect that John and Pete think they DID “improve” the pass rush. Yes, the D-line is worse off than it was last year but the back seven is much improved, especially the secondary. Moreover, the team’s overall speed is increased as is their tackling ability.

    5. I’m stocking up on pillows to throw at my TV this season; got a feeling that I’m going to need them.

    • art thiel

      So hard to know the conditions around the league. Two Seattle assets: Carrroll/Wilson continuity and team leadership, of which Adams will be a big part. This guy has the tangibles and intangibles.

      The abortive Saints deal, if allowed, would have Schneide down a flight of stairs for not thinking of it.

  • Husky73

    What’do’ya think, Art? 9 and 7?

    • art thiel

      Maybe 10-6 but no division title. But this is an unprecedented season. Stay away from the bookmakers.

      • Husky73

        I just finished The Cactus League, by Emily Nemen. No gambling for me.

  • Hockeypuck

    So – in his typically passive/aggressive way – RW has made it clear that he wants “superstars”. The Seahawks respond by signing Greg Olson and whiffing on JC. And then sign a 3rd-string center for $8mm over two years and a bunch of other OL who’ve never been able to hold a starting job. They said their biggest off-season priority was improving the DL and are now left with backups or aging players they overpaid for in free agency. They obviously expected JC to sign with them because well “we’re the Seahawks so we’re obviously a “destination location”, and now they’re left empty handed. All their problems exacerbated by their weird-ass, quirky drafting patterns over the past several years. They perceive themselves as the smartest guys in the room, their egos require them to be different so they can stand up and say “hey look at us – we’re really, really smart!”

    Their arrogance will be their undoing. After a 6-10 season (where teams average 250 yds/game rushing the ball against them), RW will quietly approach the front off office and inform them that 2020 was his last season with the Seahawks. Stung by the ongoing, searing criticism of the team, Jody Allen hires a consultant, who justifiably tells her that Coach Wonka and JS need to fired for gross incompetence. At which point JA throws up her hands and sells the team. A new owner comes in, RW forces a trade, Coach Wonka and JS are finally fired – and the dumpster fire begins.

    Art – appreciate your perspective, but could you do us a favor and be the one NW journalist to ask a difficult question at today’s presser, e.g. – you said during the off season that improving the defensive line was your #1 priority. Do you honestly think that Benson Mayowa and an aging Bruce Irvin are the answer? Wasn’t the real issue that you arrogantly assumed that JC was going to sign with you, and you were too stupid to have a backup plan?

    Make them squirm.

    • Chris Alexander

      I see time after time where folks say that Seattle’s stated offseason priority was to improve the defensive line but I dare you to find ONE time that Pete and/or John actually said that. They consistently said they wanted / needed to improve THE PASS RUSH but never, ever, EVER specifically said “defensive line.”

      My guess is that they think they did EXACTLY what they said they wanted to do – IMPROVE THE PASS RUSH.

      Whether or not they DID …. time will tell.

      Assuming / predicting that this team – which is arguably better (on paper) at nearly EVERY position group will fall to 6-10 because they didn’t resign Clowney or bring in a “big name” player on the D-line is pretty drastic and taking it to the level of predicting that John and Pete get fired and Jody Allen signs the team …. phew; that’s pretty extreme.

      My prediction is 12-4 and an NFC West title. And I also predict / suspect / expect that there will be some additions to the D-line before too long (my guess is after Week 1 when contracts for anyone they add are no longer guaranteed).

      • eyeroq

        “They consistently said they wanted / needed to improve THE PASS RUSH but never, ever, EVER specifically said “defensive line.”

        Sounds like you’re making a big deal out of semantics here when there’s really not much distinguishing “pass rush” from “defensive line”. Seahawks don’t like to blitz much, they like to get after the quarterback by rushing just 4. That makes “pass rush” pretty much synonymous with “defensive line” here for all intents and purposes. The team has taken a huge step back in their goal of improving the pass rush by losing their one big time impact player rushing the passer. Clowney was the difference maker for two pivotal victories last year, one against their division rival SF and the other the playoff game against the Eagles when he took Carson Wentz out early and they were left to rely on their 40 year old backup for the rest of the game. Seahawks no longer have that X factor this year.