While the Seahawks remained in negotiations with Jadeveon Clowney as the free-agent signing period officially began Wednesday and Clowney was said to be “considering options,” Seattle made one move to improve their pass rush by bringing back an old friend — Bruce Irvin.
That Irvin had agreed to return was initially reported by Ian Rapoport of The NFL Network. Irvin confirmed the news a little while later, tweeting: “IM SO HAPPY TO BE GOING HOME!!!! 12’s I love you!”
Terms of the deal were not immediately available, but it’s likely to be a short-term contract and maybe similar to the one-year, $4 million deal he played under last season with Carolina.
Intriguingly, as the night wore on Clowney was also said to be considering signing a short-term deal as it became apparent that the market he was hoping for wasn’t developing.
Clowney has been thought wanting the kind of blockbuster deal that the likes of DeForest Buckner, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack have gotten over the last few seasons — four to five years averaging more than $20 million per season.
But reports continued throughout the day that teams don’t want to pay that, and a tweet from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN on Wednesday night stated that may be forcing Clowney to change his tactics some.
Fowler wrote: “I’m told he’s considering options, including a potential shorter term deal with a chance to re-enter market in a year or two. Many people around league expect him back in Seattle. A $20M price tag has been steep for teams (per ESPN’s Dianna Russini.)
If Clowney does return, then he could well team with Irvin as Seattle’s starting ends in 2020.
The first-round pick in the Seahawks’ memorable 2012 draft class (Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were the next selections), Irvin played for the Seahawks from 2012-15 and was a starter on the two Super Bowl teams before signing with the Raiders as a free agent in 2016.
He later played for Atlanta and Carolina, spending last year with the Panthers on a one-year deal.
Irvin is 32 years old — he turns 33 on Nov. 1 — but he was productive for Carolina last season with 8.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits, each of which would have led the Seahawks. Irvin has always been durable. He missed the first three games of last year with a hamstring injury, but returned to play the final 13 for the Panthers, getting 608 snaps.
Irvin has missed only two other games because of injury in his eight NFL seasons (he also sat out the first four games of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning season of 2013 after being suspended by the NFL).
The Seahawks and Irvin obviously know each other well — defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was also the DC with the Raiders when Irvin signed there in 2016.
The Seahawks had hoped Irvin might return when he was released by the Raiders in 2018, but he opted to sign with the Falcons so he could play near his home in Stockbridge, Ga.
Irvin becomes the first significant addition to the defense as the Seahawks re-signed tackle Jarran Reed on Monday night.
The Seahawks saw defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson depart for Buffalo on a two-year deal Tuesday night and have three other veteran defensive linemen who became free agents Wednesday — Clowney, Ziggy Ansah and Al Woods.
Irvin generally has played the LEO or rush-end spot in the Seahawks’ defense as well as some outside linebacker. Reed and Poona Ford are back as likely starting tackles with the Seahawks still hoping to re-sign Clowney to be the starter at the other end spot.
The Seahawks also tendered restricted free agent Branden Jackson and have recent draft picks L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green at the end spots.
Obviously signing Irvin hardly means they are done adding to the pass rush, even if they also re-sign Clowney.
One issue could be that it might be a little while before anything is resolved in Clowney.
Before Fowler’s report arrived that Clowney was reconsidering his options came a report from Rapoport stating that one reason his market isn’t developing is that “there have been some questions about his injuries and his health.”
Rapoport noted that Clowney is healthy, after having had surgery to repair a core muscle injury suffered with the Seahawks last November, and is working out in his native Houston.
It was pretty easy to wonder if the report basically coming from Clowney’s side to make clear that he remains open to offers and is willing to answer any questions about his health.
But resolving concerns about his health could be especially tricky right now with teams prohibited from flying players in for physicals due to steps the NFL is taking to prohibit travel during the coronavirus outbreak.
The ban on traveling also muted the beginning of the free agent signing period as many teams did not announce contract agreements, with signings contingent on physicals being passed.
Other defensive ends the Seahawks could pursue who remain available include Everson Griffen of the Vikings, who played for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC. Another is Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue, who received a franchise tag, but the Jaguars are thought exploring trade offers for him and Seattle has been rumored to be interested.
As for Irvin, his return meant that the Seahawks again have several members of the team that beat Denver in the Super Bowl on their roster, the others being Wilson, Wagner, K.J. Wright and Luke Willson, the latter of whom tweeted Monday that he would be returning for another season.