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News broke last night that Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons has signed a contract extension that runs through the 2014 season. Terms are yet to be disclosed, but we can make an educated guess. It was reported that Clemons turned down a 3 year, $19M contract earlier. Based on his age (30), specialized role, and current contract (he was scheduled to make $4M before missing mini-camp cost him $1M), a deal worth $19-24M with guaranteed money of around $7-9M makes sense. That would double his salary this season, and give him a chance to earn similar money the next two seasons. It also protects the Seahawks downside risk by allowing them to move on after this season. Looking at it another way, Seattle likely shifted the 2012 budget allocated to Mike Williams over to Clemons, and can reevaluate the spend each year after.
Securing Clemons was critical from a football perspective. The team needs two superior edge rushers. Replacing Clemons with Irvin only accomplishes so much. Seattle can now run out two motivated edge rushers with a full compliment of interior and blitzing options. Clemons has developed into far more than a pass rusher as well. He was a great run defender last season, and a team leader. There should be no more contractual distractions for the Seahawks as they head into camp. The runway is clear for takeoff.
Ironically, Seattle still needs to find a pass-rushing defensive end to pair with Bruce Irvin beyond this season. This extension gives Clemons the spot to lose, but it is too hard to find great pass rushers, so waiting until 2014 to add another defensive end would be too late. The defense will not want to backslide to one pass-rushing threat on the outside. Dexter Davis shows some potential if he can stay healthy, but more likely, look for the Seahawks to draft for that position again over the next two seasons.