It’s been more than four months since the Seattle Seahawks fell to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the 2019 NFL Playofffs, and less than two months remain until teams report for training camp for the 2020 NFL season. For a team as fiscally conservative as the Seahawks, the calendar reaching June 1 does not mean a whole lot when it comes to the salary cap, but for teams that tend to be more aggressive in their use of the cap, it can be a significant date. Specifically, while Seattle isn’t set to gain any cap space overnight due to players having been released with a post-June 1 cut designation, other teams around the league who could be in on the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes could use this newfound cap space to bump up their prior offer.
Of the teams across the league that have used the post-June 1 designation this year, the only one that has been rumored to be linked to Clowney is the New York Jets. The Jets, of course, made a splash in free agency when they signed George Fant to a contract larger than many observers expected him to earn as a free agent, though whether Clowney would be attracted to Gang Green remains to be seen. It’s been reported that he would love to play in a major media market like New York, while at the same time his desire to play for a title contender could easily see the Jets crossed off the list.
That said, the Jets, who are currently sitting on $13,488,756 in cap space per the NFLPA, are set to see that number nearly double when they gain $11M in space Tuesday morning when the majority of Trumaine Johnson’s dead money comes off the books. Many of the other teams that have utilized post-June 1 designations, including the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears, have made the moves more to have the room to operate during the 2020 season than in order to sign free agents.
In fact, things are so tight for the Rams that they could not sign their entire rookie draft class today because they have only $528,179 in available cap space. However, with the Todd Gurley release officially being processed overnight on Monday, they will be able to do so with their newfound cap space. Whether or not they have the actual cash on hand available to sign their draft class is an entirely different question that Gurley or Clay Matthews might be best suited to answer.
You and me both TG! Better get some interest with that too https://t.co/E8RIOhg7sH— Clay Matthews III (@ClayMatthews52) April 9, 2020
This is not to say that the Rams are the only team with unsigned draft picks. The Seahawks have yet to sign their own 2020 draft class as well, however, that is likely due to the ongoing pandemic and limitations on player visits to the facilities rather than for cap or financial reasons.
In any case, one team that will gain cap space that could be linked to Clowney is the Dallas Cowboys. Reports have had Dallas staying away from Clowney, with one $22M defensive lineman already on the roster. However, as Cowboys insider Mike Fisher reported two months ago, if the price drops low enough, Dallas could decide to kick the tires.
The Cowboys are slated to gain $7M in 2020 cap space by processing the retirement of Travis Frederick after June 1, and that money could easily go to the addition of someone like Clowney. Whether Dallas would be on the list of places Clowney would like to play is certainly a question worth answering, but the simple fact is that Jerry Jones has been aggressive in terms of the cap when it comes to signing impact players he has desired. Add in the ongoing contract dispute with franchise tagged quarterback Dak Prescott, and Dallas seems an unlikely destination, though one that can’t be completely ruled out.
In short, while a half dozen teams across the league are set to see an increase in cap space for the coming season, only one has been seriously linked to Clowney. Whether that team upping its offer would be enough to convince other teams to increase or alter their offers remains to be seen, and the only thing known at this point is that the Clowney watch enters its twelfth week.