The veteran defensive end reached agreement Monday on a multi-year contract extension to remain with the Seattle Seahawks, according to sources. Contract terms were not immediately known. An announcement was expected Tuesday.
Suffice to say that Clemons, 30, can report to training camp with roster security that didn’t exist previously.
Clemons had been scheduled to earn $4 million in 2012, the final year of his contract. That number fell to $3 million when Clemons missed the mandatory camp thanks to language in the deal Clemons first signed while with Philadelphia in 2008.
Those details will become footnotes now that Clemons has a new deal with Seattle.
2010-2011 NFL Sack Leaders
Clemons has 11 sacks in each of the Seahawks’ past two seasons, up from 20 in six previous NFL seasons with three teams. At 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds, Clemons fits the pass-rushing role coach Pete Carroll envisioned for him when Seattle traded Darryl Tapp to the Eagles for Clemons and a fourth-round choice in 2010. Clemons has played through injuries and held up better than anticipated against the run.
The Seahawks were the first team to make Clemons a full-time starter. They wanted to keep him beyond the 2012 season despite questions about Clemons’ long-term future following the Seahawks’ selection of pass-rusher Bruce Irvin in the first round this year. While Irvin does project as a potential replacement for Clemons in the "Leo" role, the team now has greater flexibility beyond this season.
Seattle finished last season with 33 sacks, tied for 19th in the NFL. Clemons collected one-third of them, reflecting the team’s need for an additional top-flight pass-rusher. Irvin projects as that player -- an addition, not a replacement. Teams can never have too many pass-rushers, as the adage goes.
Clemons’ decision to skip the Seahawks' mandatory camp from June 12-14 showed his obvious frustration with the Seahawks. He had produced for two seasons, even while playing through a serious ankle injury requiring surgery.
The Seahawks were amenable to a deal, but they weren’t going to be bullied into one. They knew Clemons had no viable options in the short term, so there was no rush. But they also knew Clemons had earned a new deal. There was no sense in abusing their leverage for the sake of burying a player they valued. Forcing Clemons to play for his recently reduced salary would have made it tougher to retain Clemons following the season, absent extreme measures (such as the franchise tag). The team can now keep Clemons, develop Irvin and pursue additional talent from a position of relative strength.
Clemons' situation presented a test for Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Both took the high road publicly when Clemons' frustration led to his last-minute decision to skip the mandatory camp. Clemons had previously told Carroll he planned to attend. Carroll, unaware that Clemons changed his mind, expressed surprise when his leading pass-rusher failed to show. Coaches generally do not like surprises, but Carroll refrained from inflaming the situation. He said the team valued Clemons and hoped to work out something.
Clemons' contract agreement leaves Seattle without many contractual question marks on defense. Defensive tackle Jason Jones has a chance to cash in next offseason after signing a one-year deal with Seattle in free agency, provided he rushes the passer as effectively as the Seahawks expect him to do. Veteran linebackers Leroy Hill and Barrett Ruud are also signed through 2012 only.