Monday I took a look at how the Seattle Seahawks would likely free up cap space if they needed it in order to sign a free agent defensive lineman like Jadeveon Clowney or Everson Griffen. Now, however, the question becomes how long the saga between Clowney and the Seahawks will last, and while many fans may not like the answer, the simple truth is things are probably far from over.
With Clowney having undergone surgery to repair a sports hernia after the season concluded, it seems likely that any team that would be willing to sign him to a monster contract would only do so after first having had the opportunity to not only review his medical records, but to perform an in person physical as well. This is particularly relevant in Clowney’s situation, as the microfracture surgery he had on his knee, coupled with his age put him in a potentially high risk group when it comes to long term contracts.
While there is no doubt that microfracture surgery has benefits and can extend a player’s career, Clowney is now more than five years removed from having had the procedure performed and reaching the point where his repaired knee may be at risk of breaking down again. This is not to say that his knee is giving out or that there should be worries about an imminent breakdown, just that the cartilage resulting from microfracture surgery is less able to take the beating of everyday use, much less the abuse doled out on the knee of a defensive end in the NFL.
In short, teams aren’t likely to take a big risk on Clowney’s future and his knee without having the opportunity to perform a full evaluation of its health. With much of the country on lockdowns that are likely to last several months, this obviously creates a conundrum for teams like the Hawks as they wait for the situation to play out, while also working to address their own pass rush heading into the 2020 season.
That all combines to create a situation unique to this offseason. With Clowney possibly willing to wait out the end of the pandemic in order to allow teams to examine his knee, the wait for news on his future is likely measured in months. Washington, and much of the West Coast for that matter, have been sheltering in place for several weeks already, with apparently visible results. In contrast, there are several states which have yet to issue a lockdown order or which have only just begun.
Florida, for example, didn’t issue a statewide stay at home order for non-essential activities until Wednesday, which didn’t go into effect until midnight Thursday into Friday. Some counties took steps to issue their own stay at home orders, but even many of those counties have been very lax about any kind of enforcement. In short, if a 60 to 90 day lockdown is required to slow the growth and spread of the virus, some places are extremely early in the process and still seeing significant growth and spread.
Basically, what it comes down to, is the simple fact that before Clowney signs with a team, that team will want to do a full physical, including an evaluation of his recovery from offseason surgery as well as an MRI on his knee. That means, with the brunt of the pandemic yet to reach most of the country and the current lockdown likely to continue for several weeks going forward, the Clowney situation seems unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
Fans have already seen the Seahawks begin to make moves without waiting for Clowney to make a decision, agreeing to terms with Benson Mayowa earlier this week. With the way things are going, it certainly appears as though things will not be resolved prior to the draft, which is noteworthy this year. Specifically, under the new CBA, free agent signings stop counting towards comp picks at 4 PM New York Time on the Monday following the draft. That means free agents will no longer count towards comp pick calculations if they sign after 4 PM on April 27, which makes this coming Monday afternoon the halfway point between the opening of the legal tampering period and the point at which free agents cease to count towards comp picks.
Thus, with the state of things around the country likely to continue to deteriorate in the coming weeks, it’s looking more and more likely that the Clowney situation will not be finalized this month. That in turn means the the team is unlikely to recoup a third round comp pick as many fans had assumed would be automatic, after the team sent their 2020 third round pick to the Houston Texans to acquire Clowney on the eve of the season.