When the Seattle Seahawks first acquired Chris Clemons in 2010, the move was mostly met with criticism. The move wasn't denounced only because Clemons was a 29-year-old journeyman with three career starts, but because at the time, nobody outside of the organization had any understanding of what position he (and other "important" players like Aaron Curry) would be playing. Or why they'd be best suited for it.
Would Clemons play "elephant"?
Would Curry develop as a pass rusher?
Would Curry develop?
Would Aaron Curry develop?
What's Aaron Curry's role in this?
What about Aaron Curry?
Has anyone seen Aaron Curry?
As hard as it is to believe now, Curry started all 16 games at right outside linebacker in Carroll's first season, recording 70 tackles and 3.5 sacks. (Hey, is he available???) Clemons started at defensive end, but even more surprising than that, so did Red Bryant. (And so did Kentwan Balmer but may I distract you with more Aaron Curry mentions?)
So Carroll shifted players around as to how he saw them fit, even if it wasn't traditional, and the moves worked ... sometimes. Which is reasonable when you're given the worst roster in the NFL and manage to get rid of most of it within a year. Carroll's philosophies weren't wrong, the players were.
Curry was wrong, but we've seen other outside linebackers work in the system.
Balmer was wrong, but Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril weren't.
Bruce Irvin wasn't necessarily wrong, but he wasn't right enough and so hey, there's an opening at linebacker for anyone who wants an opportunity to start eating quarterbacks in Seattle next season and guess who's coming to dinner:
That guy who seemed even more desperate for work back in 2010 than he does today going on age 35. Not only can Chris Clemons make the team as a linebacker though, history dictates that the move may actually prove successful for a year or two.
Only 25 times in history has a player aged 35 or older recorded eight or more sacks in a season, and that comes from just 15 players total. Two of those seasons happened in 2015: Julius Peppers had 10.5 sacks for the Packers and Dwight Freeney had eight sacks in 11 games for the Cardinals, both aged 35.
Peppers went from being a career defensive end to playing linebacker in 2014 and has accumulated 17.5 sacks in the last two seasons. Freeney started playing linebacker in 2012 at age 32; at this point he doesn't do anything except rush the passer, as he had as many tackles as he had sacks last year.
John Abraham had 10.5 sacks in 2013 at the age of 35, his first season at linebacker. (Also with the Cardinals.)
Given that those are the only examples of a player aged 35 or older gaining eight sacks in the last eight years, it's notable that they all moved from defensive end to linebacker late in their careers. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that Clemons has played linebacker; he was moved around a lot early in his career as an undrafted free agent and played their frequently for the Jaguars in 2014. He was also comfortable standing up on defense for the Seahawks during his career in Seattle.
But if he's going to play for Carroll in a regular season game in 2016, I highly doubt that he'll spend more than a few snaps in a three-point stance. Clemons has spent the last six seasons in a "Pete Carroll" defensive system (and he's missed only two games during that time) but at this point the only thing he's probably capable of is standing up and rushing the passer.
He may not be a complete player anymore, and he may have only had three sacks last year, but if Clemons makes the team this season there's a decent chance we see him get the quarterback as many as a half-dozen more times in his Seahawks career.
And if not, can I interest you in these Aaron Curry highlights?