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The pass rush market exploded all around Jadeveon Clowney, who’s now the runaway prize

Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Jadeveon Clowney has journeyed from number one overall pick in the 2014 draft to number one overall most interesting player to watch this free agency.

This author wonders: maybe we were wrong about his worth, the Seattle Seahawks plan, his future, maybe we were wrong about all of it?

Pass rushers started flying the moment NFL free agency started on Monday morning. Unsurprising. Some of them received large amounts of dollars. Unsurprising.

Then stuff like this started happening

Somewhat more surprising.

Absolutely a thing of the far-distant and ridiculous past are any notions that Clowney will be on an $18 million per year contract. We’re talking real money, folks, the kind that has a two at the front.

Now that the market is starting to settle in how unsettling it is, what once was insane-speak (the Seahawks would sign Clowney for over $20 million per year) is potentially more akin to the very thing they’ve been gearing up to do this offseason.

It’s hard to quantify what general opinion was, but here’s an internal snapshot that shows the movement in opinion over even just the last few days.

In 21 hours 15 percent of people moved from a 2020 season without Clowney to one with him, and I don’t think this is too much of an outlier. If anything, we’re at the point where each signing makes it more likely for the Hawks to retain Clowney than let him leave - at least, if they want to finish above .500 this year.

Here’s the list of the top eleven pass rushers, back from John P. Gilbert’s earlier article on the position. This time, instead of crossing out the franchise tags, we’ve removed the ones who signed with different teams this week:

  • 1. Jones
  • 2. Clowney
  • 3. Barrett
  • 4. Ngakoue
  • 5. Armstead
  • 6. Fowler
  • 7. Dupree
  • 8. Judon
  • 9. Van Noy
  • 10. Griffen
  • 11. Quinn

He’s alone. Dante Fowler Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams remains, but if he’s the number one rusher with a cavernous drop to number two, this team will be even less pass rushy than last year. The potential question marks are franchise tagged players who have trade rumors. It includes Chris Jones (least likely), Yannick Ngakoue, or Matt Judon (now most likely, according to reports).

It’s technically still possible Seattle could sign Fowler, trade for Judon, let Clowney walk, magic Jarran Reed back into real sack numbers, and turn Shaquem Griffen into a pass rush monster.

Or, they could give Jadeveon Clowney $3 million per year more than people were hoping they would give him. And then do something else, and still have money now. The Seahawks would even have money in the future, as they don’t have multiple back-loaded contracts, and the cap will either maintain or explode in the coming years

Furthermore, the teams who fell in the same camp as Seattle when the week began (money to spend, rushers to find) have made some of the biggest moves thus far.

The Indianapolis Colts got DeForest Buckner and dropped insane money on him.

The Miami Dolphins added Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson.

The Houston Texans didn’t do anything smart but did and will continue to do incredibly dumb things.

The Chicago bears signed Robert Quinn and then also gave American dollars to Jimmy Graham.

The market is drying up, but so are many of the competing teams. This pendulum of Clowney’s future has been swinging dramatically, and one has to wonder how quickly people will start backing down their opinions that there’s no way in John Schneider’s lifetime a DL star will get over $20 million.