GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Jadeveon Clowney said his priority in free agency will be to play for a contender.
“I just want to win,” the defensive end said after the Seattle Seahawks’ season came to an end with a 28-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field. “I’m trying to get to the Super Bowl by any means. That’s what I’m looking for: Who’s going to get me there? I ain’t looking to get on no sorry team for no money. That ain’t going to fly. I ain’t gonna put my body through all of that just to lose no 16 games, go home with my check. I’d hate that, so that ain’t what I’m doing. So if I can’t win no Super Bowl, I ain’t going to no team that can’t win.”
Clowney, who turns 27 next month, headlines the list of Seahawks scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March and will be one of the top available pass-rushers on the market. His first order of offseason business will be to determine if he’ll have surgery on the core-muscle injury that has plagued him since Week 10. He said he probably will, though Clowney decided to put off surgery after a November visit to Dr. William Meyers, a core-muscle specialist in Philadelphia.
“I even don’t know if I showed anything,” Clowney said when asked about playing through the injury as opposed to having in-season surgery that would have sidelined him for several weeks. “I just want to show it to my team. I don’t care about what anybody else sees. These guys in the locker room know what I was dealing with. They knew that I was going to get to Sunday and let it all hang out, and that’s what they asked for.
“They tell me every week: ‘Thank you for not quitting on us and not giving up.’ I said, ‘Y’all ain’t never got to worry about that with me.’ If I can go, I’m going to go. That’s what it is. If I was able to go the rest of the season, fight for them, I was going to fight for them.”
Clowney was one of the Seahawks’ most impactful defenders despite his low sack total. He finished with only three sacks in the regular season, then had one in the wild-card round and a half-sack Sunday against Green Bay to go with seven tackles. However, he finished fifth in the regular season in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate, at 24.8%. That ESPN metric, which is powered by NFL Next Gen Stats, measures how often a defender beats his blocker in 2.5 seconds or less.
Clowney also scored a pair of defensive touchdowns this season. His hit on Carson Wentz last weekend, which didn’t draw a flag or a league fine, knocked the Eagles quarterback out of Seattle’s wild-card win.
The Seahawks acquired Clowney in a trade with the Houston Texans in late August and agreed to not use the franchise or transition tag on him after this season. That was after he nixed a trade to the Miami Dolphins, later telling NFL Network that he didn’t want to play for a team that was “gonna tank the season for a damn quarterback.”
“It’s been great,” he said of his time with the Seahawks. “It’s been great. Great experience. I met a great group of guys. I just told them, ‘I appreciate everyone in this locker room because I didn’t know how it was going to go when I got to Seattle’ … so I walked in laughing and giggling. They’ve been accepting me ever since. I think it was a good experience.”
The No. 1 overall pick in 2014, Clowney played on a fifth-year team option in 2018 and a one-year, $15 million deal this season, meaning he has played six NFL seasons without reaching unrestricted free agency. His 2019 deal, which replaced his franchise-tag tender, included a $7 million signing bonus paid by Houston. The Seahawks have been eligible to negotiate an extension with Clowney since the end of the regular season.
“We have a lot of respect for him, the whole organization,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “Myself, I don’t know what that injury feels like, but I know it’s tough playing through an injury … so we’ve got a lot of respect for him. We appreciate him coming out there and giving everything he’s got. He’s been a great player, great teammate, and he’s definitely somebody that deserves everything that’s coming his way.”
The majority of the Seahawks’ pending UFAs are offensive or defensive linemen, including Clowney, Jarran Reed, Ezekiel Ansah, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Germain Ifedi, Mike Iupati and George Fant. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks is another.
The Seahawks are projected to have more than $61 million in 2020 cap space, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System data.
“It would be amazing,” Wagner said of the possibility of getting Clowney back. “You have a playmaker, have, like I said, a great teammate, a great person, and to have that dominant good person in your room, on your team, is something that we would definitely love. But, obviously, business is business.”
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