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Report: Seahawks expected to waive defensive lineman Malik McDowell

The Seattle Times — Bob Condotta The Seattle Times

April 16--Seahawks defensive lineman Malik McDowell, Seattle's first pick in the 2017 draft, has not been cleared to return to football and will be waived by the team soon, according to a report Monday from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the league's official media arm.

Rapoport further wrote that "the hope is that another team will medically clear him."

There was no immediate confirmation from the Seahawks on the report.

McDowell, taken with the 35th overall pick in the second round out of Michigan State, was on the Non-Football Injury list all of last season after suffering a head injury in an ATV accident last July. Coach Pete Carroll referred to his injury as "a really bad concussion."

Asked about McDowell at the NFL league meetings in Orlando last month, Carroll said he no update on McDowell.

"No, sorry," Carroll said when asked if there was anything new on McDowell. "I haven't had a good response for you in a long time on that one, sorry."

Asked a similar question at the league meetings, Seattle general manager John Schneider said the team was "waiting on the scans" before it would know more about McDowell's future.

Seattle won't save money in cutting McDowell now but can at least clear out space in future years and may just be deciding to rid themselves of one of the more dubious draft picks in team history.

According to OvertheCap.com, Seattle will take a $3.65 million dead cap hit for 2018 by releasing McDowell now and $2.07 million in 2019.

Seattle could attempt to get back some of the $3.19 million signing bonus McDowell received when he signed a four-year contract worth up to $6.95 million last year -- the slotted contract for where he was drafted per the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement -- but would likely have to go to arbitration to do so unless there is some sort of agreement being made. It's unclear if there would be any sort of deal being done here ahead of McDowell potentially being waived. McDowell's bonus is pro-rated in installments of $799,619 over each of the four years of his contract. Seattle likely couldn't get back last year's bonus but might be able to retrieve some or all of the final three seasons. Any returned bonus money would also be added to the salary cap.

McDowell had been regarded as a potential high-first rounder in the fall of 2016 before turning a disappointing junior season that led to some questions about his maturity level and resulted in his stock dropping a bit.

"He is a boom-or-bust guy," an anonymous scout was quoted as saying in the 2017 NFL Draft preview. "There is no in-between."

The Seahawks traded out of the 26th pick in first round to move down three times and ultmately take McDowell (getting four extra picks in the process that turned into safeties Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill, cornerback Mike Tyson and running back Chris Carson) saying at the time they were confident in McDowell's potential and noting he was just 20.

"He's a very young man, 20 years old, who has a lot of growing," Carroll said on the day McDowell was drafted last April 28. "We think he has great upside. He had a fantastic sophomore season that we weighed heavily and we think we have a really special player and we're really happy to get him. Had a good visit when he came in, all that, and it paid off."

Schneider was memorably captured telling McDowell "don't forget our conversation" during a phone call after the team drafted him.

"We had him in for a visit, we had a great talk in my office and then I called him a little bit before we selected him as well, to just make sure we were all on the same page," Schneider said the day the draft concluded.

Along with being injured and not playing all season, McDowell was also arrested last December for disorderly conduct after getting into a dispute at a club over a $600 bill.

"He got in a situation and made a mistake and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him," Carroll said in December about McDowell's arrest. "I don't know much more than that about it. ... I know he felt really bad representing in that manner. ... I think we're definitely going work to help him in every way that we can. We've already talked about that; and let's hope that this isn't an indicator of things to come. I hope that he has turned with this experience. He sounds very much intending to do that, and we'll see what happens."

Even if McDowell is indeed waived soon, his lost 2017 season and truncated Seattle career will continue to linger.

It was the absence of McDowell that helped compel the Seahawks to trade their 2018 season-round pick and receiver Jermaine Kearse to the Jets the week before the season began for defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who was brought in to fill essentially the same role the team had pegged for McDowell.

Richardson played one season for Seattle then signed last month with the Vikings as a free agent.

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