In every NFL offseason, there’s a free-agent rollercoaster. We enjoy its twist and turns until we’re screaming to get off. This year, it has manifested itself in the Jadeveon Clowney saga that has finally come to an end.
The veteran defensive end was part of a shocking trade this time last year as the Seattle Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster deal to secure Clowney from the Houston Texans. Seattle parted ways with outside linebackers Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo and a 2020 third-round pick in an effort to bolster its pass-rush. The Seahawks’ defense became better for it; but the increase in success also meant an increase in pay and Seattle, for its own mind-boggling reasons, decided against paying Clowney his asking price; Clowney didn’t have the best year, and the Seahawks can excuse not meeting his price with the down year.
Now, with less than a week to the start of the 2020 season, Clowney has reportedly agreed to sign with the Tennessee Titans, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, but only after one last ride. Both the Titans and New Orleans Saints were making a big push in the Clowney sweepstakes while the Baltimore Ravens were a late addition to the race.
According to NFL media, the Titans had an offer on the table and the Saints had been in contact with Clowney multiple times. In, quite literally, an all-out blitz, New Orleans sent a member of its coaching staff to Houston “to meet and discuss why New Orleans is the best spot.” It would have been unfair to still not consider Seattle, despite its lack of commitment to the very end. While there were conflicting reports, the Seahawks echoed their most recent position, and his price was still too high. The loss is monumental to Seattle’s pass-rush, and its defense would again likely suffer another down year. As in every case, however, you get what you pay for, and other teams willing to pay up.
Clowney will rejoin head coach Mike Vrabel, who was part of the Texans’ defensive staff during Clowney’s first couple of years in Houston. The move to get Clowney shows the team’s efforts to repeat the surprising success last season. The Titans’ ascension from a playoff lull to two postseason appearances in the last three seasons, including 2019’s AFC Championship Game matchup with the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs, came with a middling defensive line.
If Tennessee is to repeat its efforts, securing its pass-rush needed to be at the top of its list. The Titans brought back the keys to their offensive success: 2019 Comeback Player of the Year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and star running back Derrick Henry. However, the offseason saw the departure of linebacker Cameron Wake and there was no viable option for a second edge player to run with Harold Landry. Tennessee added Vic Beasley to help, but the two alone wouldn’t have been a playoff-caliber threat.
Clowney’s addition brings stability to the defensive line that would have largely relied on its younger talent. Despite his down year in production in Seattle, in part due to injury, and core muscle surgery this offseason, Clowney should have an immediate impact in this defensive front. He has yet to hit the double-digit sack mark, and when healthy, been a consistent sack machine. He’ll be a good veteran presence for Jeffery Simmons and Landry, who will both be expected to make a leap this season.
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