Many considered 27-year old Jadeveon Clowney as the top overall player available in free agency this offseason. Still, he’s a tremendous talent that comes with a substantial risk for a signing team. Believe it or not, Clowney has only played in all 16 regular-season games once during his six-year NFL career.
He’s a versatile defensive end, edge rusher that’s never produced a double-digit sack season. When I think of Clowney, the first thing that comes to mind was that one time he nearly decapitated Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl.
Entering free agency, Clowney was seeking upwards of $20-million per season on a long-term deal, but injury concerns have organization’s clearly balking at signing that deal. He’s an incredible talent, but his on-field work ethic and a laundry list of injuries have teams reluctant to commit that large sum of money.
Clowney made 24 tackles and just three sacks last season with the Seattle Seahawks. It’s hard to justify giving a player $100-million after he recorded just three sacks and 24 tackles. Pro Football Focus, on the other hand, absolutely loves Clowney for the folks that use that tool, and only that tool to identify talent.
Clowney received a stellar 87.3 overall grade last season, mostly due to his 48 pressures and 35 quarterback hurries; he just failed to ‘get home.’ In 2019, Clowney received an 89.2 overall rating, the best of his career after compiling a career-high nine sacks.
Clowney clearly sees what DeForest Buckner received from the Colts and hopes to mirror that deal but may have to wait a year before that type of money becomes available for his services. Clowney may have to take a one-year deal somewhere, prove he can stay healthy, and be close to a double-digit sack performer once again.
Why not the Detroit Lions? Detroit could use Clowney in many different ways; he could play with his hand in the dirt opposite Trey Flowers, he could slide inside as Detroit’s interior pass-rusher on third down and can excel as a standup end. Detroit has the money to give Clowney a massive one-year deal, perhaps even $20-million for a season if they wish, and then re-evaluate the situation again come next winter. The Detroit Lions need to seriously consider adding Clowney on a short term deal if it comes to that.