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NFL Draft

Should Seahawks Be More Interested In Everson Griffen or Clay Matthews?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 11, 2020
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The Seattle Seahawks need to bolster their pass-rush. They aren’t desperate enough to meet defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s asking price and are ready to move on, according to NFL Network’s Michael Silver. Clowney spent 2019 in Seattle and now wants top dollar for his pass-rushing services. 

Seattle has already begun to reinvent its defense with a few additions this offseason and has set its sights on other veteran talents as well. The Seahawks brought back outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, who was part of the 2013 Super Bowl-winning team, and signed Benson Mayowa to his second stint with the team. Mayowa was also on the 2013 team; he was an undrafted free agent that year and played in two games before he was declared inactive for the remainder of the season. 

The Seahawks aren’t done making moves, per Silver’s report, and some potential additions include either Everson Griffen or Clay Matthews. Both players can be linked back to head coach Pete Carroll during his tenure at USC. Griffen, who attended the university from 2007-09, Carroll’s final seasons as the Trojans head coach, has played his entire 10-year career with the Minnesota Vikings. He finished the 2019 season with eight sacks and opted out of his contract, which was through the 2022 season, to test the free-agent market. Matthews played for USC from 2004-08 and continued to face Carroll throughout his professional career with the Green Bay Packers and most recently with the Los Angeles Rams, who released Matthews in March.

The Seahawks are making a sustained effort to fix one of their biggest issues from last season. They had a mediocre pass-rush win rate (43%), according to ESPN, and Clowney was the star of this mid-level show. He ranked seventh out of all defensive ends and outside linebackers in the PRWR metric, showing, by far, he was the best Seattle had to offer on the defensive front. The Seahawks get the versatility of Irvin, Mayowa who is coming off a career-best seven-sack season, and depth via the draft; Seattle selected linebacker Jordyn Brooks with its first-round pick and drafted EDGE Darrell Taylor in the second round. The Seahawks added a slew of other rookies to help fill out the front seven, but they still need a capable pass-rusher in place of Clowney. If given the choice between Griffen or Matthews, they should go with the former.

Seattle has players to meet the role Matthews would fill. Matthews is a formidable pass-rusher but his LEO position is nearly full on this roster. Carroll and company overloaded the tweener role, and rightfully so, the biggest need now is securing more depth at Griffen’s position: a 5-technique. The Seahawks have Rasheem Green, who led the team with four sacks last season, and L.J. Collier, a 2019 first-round pick whose rookie season was affected by a training camp injury. 

Carroll has stressed the importance of adding and finding pass-rush-oriented players that can help “speed-wise and in the rotations.”

We did not get the production on the edge that we wanted, so we went and addressed it,” Carroll told a local ESPN-affiliate in mid-July

Griffen is the younger, more productive option who can fill an immediate need if the Seahawks have truly moved on from Clowney. He has about 20 pounds on Matthews and showed, during his time in Minnesota, he could open the field for the Vikings’ LEO role. With Griffen, Seattle wouldn’t need to look to Collier, who hasn’t provided much help. Matthews may garner more fan attention but he’s been quieter than Griffen recently. 

The Seahawks are often stuck in their own ways, which could benefit either Griffen or Matthews here, but there should be such a thing as over-filling a position, and Matthews would do that. Seattle can still rotate its defensive linemen with all of its depth, and if the team sticks with Green as the starting 5-tech, which it should, it can use Griffen as one of the first players off the bench. It isn’t an ideal role after consistently starting for the Vikings since 2014, but Griffen has been sitting on the market for some time.  

The Seahawks will have just over $11 million in salary-cap space to work with entering the 2020 season.

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