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NFL Draft

Best Team Fits For Jadeveon Clowney

  • The Draft Network
  • May 13, 2020
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NFL free agency is a giant unknown. 

Perhaps that's why we love it so much. We can talk about value and return on investment for certain players; examine statistics and how much we think they have left in the tank. But until the new league year drops and contracts are officially offered, it's all just speculation.

Jadeveon Clowney has been a name on people’s radar for quite some time. He was the No. 1 recruit out of high school and committed to South Carolina. After three years with the Gamecocks, he was the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Many predicted Clowney to be the next great, dominant edge force for the next decade.

Fast forward, and we're more than halfway through what would be that decade. During that time, Clowney has had his share of dominant moments, but not as many or as often as some would have believed.

That's why, at this point in time, Clowney remains unsigned.

When Clowney hit free agency after his lone year with the Seahawks, it was reported that he was shooting for a contract that would make him the highest-paid edge rusher in the NFL, or at least one that was in the top three. It would have been a payout of about $22-23 million per season. When free agency opened up, it was clear that no team wanted to sign Clowney to such a deal.

Over the last few months, Clowney's camp has brought his asking price down from $20 million to $17 million, and yet he remains unsigned.

There are unique factors here. The inability to safely travel and closed facilities hinder important medical checks; Clowney had core surgery during the offseason and has only played a full 16 games once in his six-year career due to injury.

Clowney's best option might be to sign another one-year deal that could pay out between $14-15 million and then try to cash in again next season, but his injury history might make it tougher for him to bet on himself, even if he wants to.

Clowney isn't unsigned due to a lack of teams being interested. Though he’s not as reliable of a pass rusher as many may have hoped, he is a dominant run defender and brings a lot of versatility to a defensive line.

So, where would a player with such a label best fit?

It would be in the AFC South with one of two teams: the Colts or Titans.

The cap space fits for both; Indianapolis and Tennessee are in the top 10 when it comes to cap space around the league. The Colts have the sixth most, at $25.1 million, and the Titans have the 10th most, at $19.8 million. Both of these teams could add Clowney for, say, $15 million for 2020 without putting them in a tight spot.

The team situation is the next fit. Clowney is certainly looking to cash in that big second contract, first and foremost, he'll still want to go to a team that is at least in playoff contention. Both the Colts and Titan seem to be very committed to playoff runs in 2020.

Indianapolis’ playoff dreams weren't realized last season after beginning the year with the shocking retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts were still very competitive and are shaping up to be even more competitive in 2020. The addition of veteran passer Philip Rivers and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner shows a strong commitment to a division title and beyond.

Tennessee brought back quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the 2019 Comeback Player of the Year, on a mid-length deal and committed big money to running back Derrick Henry via the franchise tag; they're in on a similar playoff run to the one they had last season when they shocked the world and took down both the Patriots and Ravens.

Finally, there is the roster fit.

The Colts are still searching for a constant edge presence opposite Justin Houston. Indianapolis already invested high capital, via trade price and contract money, on the defensive line with Buckner; but if Clowney's price tag is down, there's no reason why they shouldn't consider adding more. Buckner and Clowney would give the Colts one of the best run-stopping duos in the NFL, and two of the more versatile players to do that job.

When the offseason began, the Titans' top need was on the edge. Harold Landry was pegged as the starring edge rusher on one side, but after the departure of Cameron Wake, there wasn't a solidified second edge player. Tennessee signed Vic Beasley to help fill that void. On his own, Beasley likely won't give the Titans the playoff-caliber edge presence they need, but with Clowney thrown into the mix, there’s now a strong edge rush rotation.

Both teams would be wise to jump on the difference maker Clowney can be when he finds the right team fit.

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