Chris Clemons finally got his payday. Though specifications are expected to come out later today, Seahawks fans can rest assured that their favorite sack artist will be terrorizing Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in 2012, and will be with the Seahawks until 2015.
Clemons' holdout stirred up panic in many Seattle fans, myself included. Were he to miss valuable training camp time, Clemons could have easily undone the intricately woven thread that is Pete Carroll's plan for the Seahawks' 2012 defense.
Let me explain. The obvious weak point of Seattle's defense in 2011 was the pass rush, as Carroll himself admitted. A meager 33 sacks through a whole season did no favors for the secondary, let alone the linebacking core. With inconsistent pressure off the edge, Seattle gave plenty of time to opposing quarterbacks, allowing morale killing completions to tight ends and running backs over the middle.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider were determined to fix this through the draft and through free agency. To a large extent, the front office succeeded in giving the defensive line what it noticeably lacked: speed.
The nimble Jason Jones and the speedster Bruce Irvin joined the team with to provide interior and exterior speed, respectively. Even the linebackers were given youthful speed, as Bobby Wagner and Korey Toomer were among the fastest 'backers in the 2012 class.
Often forgot is the fact that Carroll and Schneider didn't make these moves with the intention of recreating the defensive line, but rather complementing the assets they already have. Namely, Chris Clemons.
Were this multi-year contract not in effect, one can infer that Clemons would continue to hold out. By missing training camp time, Clemons would accrue massive fines, lose precious practice time with his new teammates, and be in worse physical condition when the season started.
As a result, Clemons' on-field performance would dip, meaning that opposing teams could double team Jason Jones (as they did in his early years when he played defensive tackle). Without a premier sack threat to worry about, opposing offensive lines could focus their attention on the light weight of Jones and the inexperience of Irvin, effectively rendering the Seahawks' pass rush useless.
Now, is that a giant slippery slope of speculation? Of course it is. We're still in the offseason (training camp is so close! Hallelujah!), so hopelessly optimistic and excessively catastrophic predictions abound.
But my point is that by holding out, Clemons threatened to be the monkey wrench in Carroll's pass rush scheme as opposed to the key cog (hooray for metaphors).
By locking Clemons up essentially to the brink of his effectiveness (he will be 33 when the contract expires), the Seahawks have ensured that their offseason building was not for naught, and that there won't be a missing puzzle piece on the Seahawks defense in 2012.