There has never been a talent like Jadeveon Clowney still on the free-agent market after the draft, barring injury or off the field concerns. Clowney originally held out after not receiving the offers he wanted and to see if any interested teams would raise their offer. But now with most rosters almost set, Clowney finds himself in a position anyone of his caliber of talent has seen in recent history.
Clowney was taken first overall back in 2014 by the Houston Texans. He was undoubtedly going to be the first selection after his dominant play at South Carolina. In his five years in Houston, Clowney made it to the Pro Bowls three times even though he never reached double-digit sack totals. After receiving a franchise tag, Head Coach/GM Bill O’Brien boldly traded away Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks in order to clear cap space for eventual Texans’ left tackle Laremy Tunsil. O’Brien felt that protecting Deshaun Watson was more important than keeping their defense together.
This past season in Seattle, Clowney was a bit of a disappointment for Clowney only having three sacks on the year. Many thought he would be the last piece the Seahawks needed to become a Super Bowl Contender again. But instead Clowney kind of got lost in the fold in Seattle, many forgetting that he was there at times, except whenever he would make a huge play.
Originally Clowney’s asking price was around $20 million which is more than the $15 million he was making on the franchise tag last year and more than he would have made if he received it this season. However, to Clowney’s surprise teams were not willing to offer that amount to him. As time passed he dropped his price tag to around $17-$18 Million (likely on a one year deal). But there still hasn’t been any bites. It is reported that Clowney is willing to wait till July if that is what it takes to get his money but if he signs beforehand here are his options.
Run it Back
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Contract: 1 year $15 Million
This would be the ultimate ‘walking with your tail between your legs’ situation. Jadeveon Clowney tests the market for higher value than what Seattle was offering him, but ultimately decides to return for a lot less than he intended. Though Clowney didn’t have the stats many expected he would in Seattle, he had an extremely good year. PFF gave Clowney an 87.3 grade which was higher than the likes of Deforest Buckner, Aaron Rodgers and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The reason why Seattle seems to be hesitant to bring Clowney back is because of his sack totals. Seattle traded for Clowney because they needed an edge rusher who can get after the quarterback and put up 10+ sacks a season. If he went back he would have another opportunity to be the player Seattle thought he was and potentially raise his value for free agency after this upcoming season.
However, a return to Seattle seems to be more unlikely by the day. The Seahawks took necessary precautions and addressed the edge rusher position twice during the 2020 draft, trading up to select Darrell Taylor in the second round and picking Alton Robinson in the fifth. Like Clowney, Taylor is a fast, athletic edge rusher with the versatility to play defensive end and outside linebacker. Also defensive tackle Jarran Reed has announced that he has taken back his no. 90 jersey number after giving it to Clowney the year before. General Manager John Schneider has shut down that rumor, but that is not something a player would say out of the ordinary. As time goes on it seems more and more unlikely that Seattle would want to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney unless it is at an extremely low value.
The Destination Madden Spoiled
Team Tennesse Titans
Contract: 1 year $17 Million
See the video: https://t.co/E9hv2AYE0B
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) March 21, 2020
In late March, the Madden video game released a Tik Tok showing newly agreed upon free agents in their new team’s uniforms and though Clowney had not signed, they showed him in a Tennessee Titans uniform. Around this time there was also speculation and rumors about the Titans being interested in signing Clowney. So many thought it was only a matter of time that Clowney would agreed to a deal in Tennessee, but that deal never happened. The Titans are still very involved in the bidding war to get Clowney and at times looked like the favorite.
Tennessee’s interest in Jadeveon Clowney is interesting because the team had also signed Vic Beasley to a one-year, $9.5 million deal who plays the same position as him. They also have Harold Landry on the roster who had nine sacks in his first full season as a starter in 2019. So the fit in Tennessee is interesting because after committing large amounts of money to Beasley and Clowney you cannot bench one of them. If the Titans land Clowney they will likely try to convert Beasley to defensive end to replace Jurrell Casey while have Landry and Clowney rush the passer standing upfront the outside.
Jadeveon Clowney would likely play his best football in Tennessee, because he plays at his best when he is a 3-4 outside linebacker rushing the quarterback and would be a part of an already talented defense. The only downside is that he could once again get lost behind all the superstars the Titans have on their roster. Clowney could be considering joining the Titans because of the opportunity to reunite with his former linebacker coach and defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel and play his former team the Houston Texans twice a year and match up against Laremy Tunsil, the player they basically traded him away for and prove Bill O’Brien wrong.
Team: New York Jets
Contract: 1 year $18 Million
Gregg Williams would be licking his chops at the opportunity for the New York Jets to add Jadeveon Clowney to their defense. Even after the injuries, the Jets dealt with last season their defense was still one of the stronger units in the league. Even after the draft, the Jets do not have a sure thing at edge rusher opposite Jordan Jenkins. If healthy, third-round pick Jabari Zuniga is likely the favorite to start opposite Jenkins. However what if the Jets added another star to their defense.
Out of the three major teams who have been rumored to sign Clowney, the Jets are always considered the afterthought, because they are the least likely to win. However, this might cause the Jets to offer more to Clowney than the other teams. And that is the reason why Clowney is still on the market, he just wants to get paid.
The Jets defense might be scarier if people give them credit if they sign Jadeveon Clowney. Their defense would be made up of Jadeveon Clowney, Quinnen Williams, CJ Mosley, Avery Williamson, Jordan Jenkins, Pierre Desir, Brian Poole, Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams. If Gregg Williams was able to get good play out of the backup players who filled in for all the injuries along the Jets’ defense imagine what he could do with that. There is also a good chance that Gregg Williams lets Clowney stand up at outside linebacker and let him ‘pin his ears back’ and just go after the quarterback every play. This would drive up Clowney’s sack numbers and his price tag when free agency comes back around. Though they will not be playing in the Super Bowl next year, the New York Jets could be the destination where Clowney can maximize his value.
What’s better than one former First Overall pick on your defensive line?..TWO!
Team: Cleveland Browns
Contract: 2 years $35 Million
The fourth team that has been rumored to be linked to Jadeveon Clowney, but are not seen as a legitimate threat to land him is the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns have added so much star power to their roster since drafting Baker Mayfield. The Browns have brought in Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, Jack Conklin, Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson via free agency or trade. However the Browns still are not considered to be contenders. There is even a debate that they might be the third-best team in their division. Adding a talent like Jadeveon Clowney could solidify the Browns as playoff contenders.
The last two first overall picks that were defensive players were Jadeveon Clowney (2017) and Myles Garrett (2017). Both are freak athlete defensive ends that are better at different things. Clowney is leaner, faster, and better against the run, while Garrett uses his size and strength to get after the quarterback. As unreal as it sounds, these two would be the perfect compliments for each other. Teams would not know who to double team. They might not be able to double team any of them considering they have the rotation of Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi, Andrew Billings and (third-round pick) Jordan Elliot rushing from the interior as well.
The Browns don’t have the need for Clowney considering they already have Olivier Vernon opposite Myles Garrett. However, Vernon is entering a contract year after getting 3.5 sacks in 10 games in his first year in Cleveland. Vernon is set to make $15.5 million next season and could be released without the Browns owing him a dime. The Browns could essentially cut Vernon, boosting their remaining cap from $39 million to $54.5 million and sign Clowney with a majority of the money they were going to play Vernon or keep Vernon and sign Clowney to rotate with him plus play some outside linebacker. Since they have the most remaining salary cap in the league the Browns have the most flexibility.
It would be irresponsible for the Browns not to give Clowney an offer considering they are looking to contend in 2020. They also have the flexibility to give Clowney a two-year deal instead of one because the only free agents the Browns could prioritize on their roster are Larry Ogunjobi and Kareem Hunt.
Kind of awkward…
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Contract: 1 year $16 Million
The last time the Philadelphia Eagles played, Josh McCown and the much injured Philadelphia Eagles failed to come back from the Seattle Seahawks. It was brutal to watch. Though their roster was depleted by injuries the Eagles still snuck into the playoffs with some momentum too. However, the hopes of the Eagles doing anything past that game reached a halt once Jadeveon Clowney eliminated Carson Wentz from the game. Injuries happen, however, this was not an injury by chance. Clowney hit Wentz in the back of the head with his helmet while Wentz was going down. This resulted in a concussion for Wentz and him not being able to finish the game.
On that note, the Eagles do need a pass rusher and Clowney is the best on the market. If both parties can let bygones be bygones this would be a great signing. Clowney also called Eagles fans “the worst fans in the world” so mending this relationship might be hard from every level. The Eagles have just under $23 million in salary cap remaining and very little needs. They can splurge on a major free agent who is still available and should if they want to be more of a threat to teams in the NFC.
Opposite of former All-Pro Brandon Graham the Eagles have the combination of Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat. Both had career highs in sacks this past year. Even though Sweat’s four sacks are good for a rotational pass rusher, Barnett’s 6.5 is disappointing for a former first-round pick. The Eagles picked but Barnett’s option past 2020, but the Eagles have never been shy about adding more talent along their defensive line. Jim Schwartz can rotate Clowney around the field putting him opposite Brandon Graham and have Clowney blitz the passer as an outside linebacker.
Team: Indianapolis Colts
Contract: 1 year $17.5 Million
One year from the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts have rebounded very nicely. This offseason the Colts have signed Philip Rivers, Xavier Rhodes, Trey Burton, Sheldon Day, TJ Carrie and traded for Deforest Buckner. They also drafted two dynamic playmakers with their first two draft picks this year as well. Since most of those players are on one-year deals it seems like the Colts are going for it this year.
With just over $25 million available in cap space the Colts can still bring in a major free agent to help the team and there is no bigger free agent on the market than Clowney, especially one that is looking to sign a short term deal. Clowney can be the final piece to the Colts win now puzzle.
Indianapolis have a decent amount of edge rusher on their roster, however, none besides Justin Houston has played at a high level. Houston led the team with 11 sacks last year. Kemoko Turray had played extremely well in year two last season until he got hurt. Last year’s second-round pick Ben Banogu did not do much last season, but will have a larger role with Jabaal Sheard off the team.
The Colts legitimately have a shot at winning the AFC South. Jacksonville seems to be starting a rebuild, The Texans showed that they have a lot of dysfunction in their building, and the Titans are going to be competitive, but the Colts have a shot of taking the division over them. Next year could likely be the only change this roster has at doing something. So why not push all the chips to the middle of the table and bring in an impact player like Clowney.