Jadeveon Clowney all offseason: "I want to be paid top dollar!"
Cleveland Browns (apparently): "Here's top dollar."
Jadeveon Clowney: "Nah, I'm good."
Based on the latest report from Adam Schefter, that's essentially what happened in negotiations between the Browns and Jadeveon Clowney. They offered him the biggest contract he's received this offseason and he balked at the opportunity to sign with them. Schefter was unsure if he didn't want to be in Cleveland or didn't feel the organization was the right fit, but said if Clowney wanted to be a Brown he would have already signed with them. That's how good the reported money was.
While mystery remains, this report does put Clowney and his agent in a worse spot than before the Browns called his bluff.
First of all, it seems clear the Browns leaked this information. Why would Clowney's camp do so? It removes all leverage they would have in future negotiations with other teams. So let's just get that out of the way right now. I believe the Browns leaked it and probably did so because they were pissed that Clowney turned down their lucrative offer. Perhaps they also felt Clowney and his agent were trying to use their contract negotiations to up an offer from another team. Either way, by going public the Browns seemingly burnt the bridge with Clowney and diminished whatever leverage he has.
Why would the Seahawks increase the offer they reportedly made earlier in the offseason? Who are they bidding against? At this point in the offseason, not many teams have $10-$20 million in cap space to sign anyone. Even fewer have a need/desire to pay that much for an oft-injured pass rusher. One of those teams was just left at the altar by Clowney after giving him seemingly everything he wanted. The competition to swoop in and woo Clowney at this point is about as fierce as the competition to sign Cam Newton.
This offseason, we heard reports that Clowney is seeking $20 million annually in his first foray in free agency. No team has reportedly been willing to come close to that number and we've slowly heard his demand go down. But now we know Clowney doesn't just want big money. He wants the perfect situation and big money. The other thing this Browns situation reminds us is that we don't know what Clowney views as an ideal fit. The Browns have a solid front four (Myles Garrett and Clowney would have been fun) and a lot of star power around the field. Interesting he'd turn down that opportunity in tandem with a big pay day.
At this point, Clowney seems most likely destined to sign a short deal and try to cash in after this season. He set too high of a number at the start of free agency, waited too long to lock in a long-term deal, and now has been put on blast by a team that was pursuing him. That's not a great confluence of factors for a free agent this late in the game.