A reunion between the Seahawks and Chris Clemons seemed like a possibility when the veteran defensive end visited the team at the start of free agency, right as Seattle was about to lose Bruce Irvin to Oakland.
It is now a reality as the Seahawks have agreed to terms with Clemons, bringing back a key member of the defense that led Seattle to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. The team announced the move on Friday, and no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke.
No terms were disclosed. Given Clemons’ age (he turns 35 in October) and his diminished production last season (three sacks in 16 games), it’s likely a short-term deal that doesn’t include a significant financial commitment from Seattle. And because Clemons was released earlier this offseason by Jacksonville, where he spent the last two seasons, his signing won’t cost the Seahawks a compensatory draft pick even if he ends up making the team.
If he does, that would be something of a reversal of the roles that the Seahawks envisioned when they drafted Irvin 15th overall in 2012 first to pair opposite Clemons and ultimately to replace him.
Now it’s the other way around. Clemons’ addition gives the Seahawks a backup defense end as well as another edge rusher for their nickel defense, which is one of the roles they had to fill following Irvin’s free-agent departure.
That’s not to say that Clemons is a lock to fill it given his age and the uncertainty over how productive he can still be at this stage of his career. Clemons didn’t miss a game during his two seasons with the Jaguars, but his sack total dropped from eight to three as he went from a full-time starter in 2014 to starting eight games last year.
Clemons becomes the fifth player Seattle has signed in free agency following offensive tackles J’Marcus Webb and Bradley Sowell, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga and long-snapper Drew Ferris.
He’s returning to the place where his NFL career took off. Clemons was a journeyman before he was acquired in a 2010 trade Philadelphia, which was one of three teams he had played for over his first seven seasons. That acquisition was one of the first major personnel moves of the John Schneider/Pete Carroll regime. Six years later, it still ranks among the best.
Clemons had 20 sacks on his career resume when he was acquired along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for defensive end Darryl Tapp. He recorded 11, 11 and 11.5 sacks over his first three seasons with the Seahawks, starting every game. His sack total dropped to 4.5 in 2013 as he worked his way back from a torn ACL that sidelined him for the first two games.
The Seahawks released Clemons after that season. Now they’re bringing him back in the hopes that he can replicate at least some of the pass-rushing production he once gave Seattle.