Seattle Seahawks

Jadeveon Clowney’s future: “I want to get to the Super Bowl. Who’s going to get me there?”

Jadeveon Clowney was clear.

Even while his future is cloudy.

“I want to get that Super Bowl by any means,” the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end said late Sunday after his contract ended with the Seahawks’ 28-23 loss at Green Bay in the NFC divisional playoff game.

“Who’s going to get me there? I’m not looking to get on no sorry team for no money.”

Oh, Clowney is going to get paid.

But by whom?

His contract has expired and he’s poised to enter the riches of free agency for the first time. That market opens in March. The Seahawks have between now and then to make him an offer that would attract him to remain in Seattle’s instead of leaving on the open market.

What’s next for him?

“Who knows?” Clowney said. “I don’t know. No clue, to be honest. I ain’t even been in this situation. I’ll just try to get ready for the offseason, I guess.

“I don’t even know, man.”

He has skills at a premium position in the NFL, the second-most important one in the sport behind quarterback.

The market for one of those got reset last offseason by Dallas’ Demarcus Lawrence and Kansas City’s Frank Clark, the defensive end the Seahawks traded last spring before the Chiefs gave him the deal north of $20 million per year Seattle would not.

Will they now give that money to Clowney?

That’s a tricky issue.

Coach Pete Carroll said Monday morning on his weekly radio show with KIRO AM he and general manager John Schneider already met on this and other pressing contract issues for the offseason on the team’s flight home from Green Bay that landed at SeaTac Airport at 2 a.m. Monday. Carroll said the team would “love” to have Clowney back.

He turns 27 next month. He missed three of the final five games of the 2019 regular season after he injured core muscles while dominating Seattle’s win at San Francisco on Nov. 11. Sunday night’s loss to the Packers was the first time in the two months since the injury he played three consecutive games. He had a specialist in Philadelphia hold off on surgery he is likely to get now that the Seahawks’ season ended.

He had three sacks in 13 regular-season games, the lowest total of his career outside of his rookie one for Houston in 2014. He played in just four games that season coming off injury.

But he was a disruptive force who spent much of the season in opponents’ backfields. He was a guy offenses had to account for in game plans. He was the most double-teamed defensive end in the league. He made teammates Rasheem Green and Quinton Jefferson better and more effective on Seattle’s defensive line.

And he was popular inside the Seahawks’ locker room. He was an easy fit with veterans such as linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright on the defense after Seattle traded with the Texans to get him Sept. 1.

Clowney’s already high stock inside that Seahawks locker room soared when he delayed the core surgery so he could play in their postseason. He missed practices the last two months but often played on through an injury that ends the season of many others who have had it.

“I don’t even know if I showed anything. I just wanted to show to my teammates,” he said. “I don’t care about what anybody else say. These guys in this locker room know what I was dealing with. They knew 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, you never have to worry about that with me.’ I ain’t...if I’m able to go (play), I’m going to go.

“That’s what I do. I was able to play the rest of the season, to fight for them.”

The Seahawks did that knowing his contract would be ending after the season. As part of the trade they reached a gentleman’s agreement not to place their franchise tag for 2020 on him, as Houston had done in 2019 to keep Clowney from free agency.

The beef he had with Houston over that is why he held out of the Texans’ offseason and training camp. Because he did not sign his tender as Houston’s franchise-tag player, his team could not talk to him about a longer-term extension until the 2019 regular season ended.

Seattle inherited that provision with his one-year franchise-tag deal worth $8 million for this past season. That meant the Seahawks could not begin talking about another contract until after their regular-season finale Dec. 29.

Clowney was asked in the visitor’s locker room at Lambeau Field if he had talked to the Seahawks about a new deal.

“I haven’t. I haven’t,” he said. “I’ve just been taking it one day at a time. We weren’t even going to be talking right now because we thought we were getting ready for next week (and the NFC championship game at San Francisco in which the Packers will now be playing instead).”

He chuckled ruefully.

“So who knows?” he said. “We’ll see how it go.”

He came out flying Sunday night (“that’s the way I play,” he said) against the Packers, chasing after Aaron Rodgers and ruining rushes by 1,000-yard running back Aaron Jones. Even after he got kicked in the groin and briefly left the game in the first half, Clowney played on and crashed through Green Bay’s offensive line.

When it all ended Sunday night—the game, this season, his contract—Clowney collapsed onto his knees, onto famed Lambeau Field.

“I was hurt. I was hurt,” he said. “I didn’t want to lose this game. And, I put a lot into this game, in the offseason. I just think about all that when we were losing at the end of the game.”

He rubbed his face as he leaned against a locker beneath Green Bay’s stadium.

“I just did so much in the offseason, so much training, just to get to this point. And for us to just lose it, I was upset.

“Knowing you are just two games away from going to the Super Bowl, these are the opportunities you come for and really fight for,” he said. “Nobody comes to play 16 games (of a regular season) and go home.

“I just wanted to win.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.