Jadeveon Clowney Still on the Market As Training Camp Looms
It’s been a rough landscape for sports the last few months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic though things are starting to come back to life. MLS is slated to get underway today with the MLS Is Back tournament. MLB, the WNBA, the NBA and the NHL are all slated to get back to action later this month with the NHL the latest to have actual meaningful games begin on August 1. Meanwhile, the NFL has gotten through the majority of their offseason and are preparing to try and have a full season beginning in September.
While most free agents have long since signed with their respective teams, be it a new squad or re-signing with their previous franchise, there is one big name still out on the market: Jadeveon Clowney. The former first overall pick became a free agent after spending last season with Seattle and quickly stated that he was seeking more than $20 million a season. As the initial wave of free agency came and went with no one chasing after him, he lowered his asking price to around $17 million. Now, with the start of training camp about three weeks away, he’s still on the market though there have been offers thrown around.
The latest reports about Clowney state that the Raiders have sent a contract offer to try and procure his services for 2020 and beyond. Of course, the big issue on the deal is money: the reports say that while Jon Gruden wants to bring Clowney in, general manager Mike Mayock and owner Mark Davis aren’t interested in breaking the bank to bring him in to the fold. As a result, there are reportedly multiple offers worth more money on the table for his services. Las Vegas doesn’t have a ton of cap room to throw around after bringing in guys like Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkowski and Carl Nassib in the offseason. In addition, the Raiders have spent several draft picks on defensive line help in the last couple of years as they selected Clelin Ferrell, Arden Key and Maxx Crosby.
Beyond the Raiders, there are several other teams that have previously made offers on the talented but injury-prone defensive end. Cleveland had offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million per season in a contract offer earlier in the offseason but he turned it down. Now, with the renegotiation of Olivier Vernon’s contract, which was to pay him $15.25 million this season, down to a more palatable number, the Browns may no longer be interested. A total of $10.75 million of his 2020 salary is guaranteed now, which means that Cleveland wouldn’t receive as much of a benefit should they cut him loose. That could price Clowney out of the range of what is feasible for them this season.
Tennessee has also been interested in procuring Clowney to add to their defensive group but the general consensus seems to be that they want to see him in person as opposed to video. After having core muscle surgery last season, teams are rightfully cautious to ensure that any player they are considering in free agency is healthy and ready to go. Titans GM Jon Robinson said as much in an interview with Paul Kuharsky on Tuesday night.
"What I've seen on Twitter, him rushing off the edge and hitting that bag. Anytime you are dealing with whatever the contract is going to command, you want to make sure that the player is healthy, that you are able to allow your doctors to see him, to look at it, to make sure everything is going to be good."
At this point, it seems like Clowney is unlikely to get the multi-year, high dollar payday that he was seeking when the offseason began. The expectation is that he plans to sign somewhere before the season starts but it may well be on a one-year, prove it type of deal in an effort to try and show that he’s worth the big money that he was seeking in the offseason. Should that be the case, the higher the odds are that he could return to Seattle, where he spent last season. After all, Seattle gives him a place where he has familiarity and could feel comfortable as he tries to bounce back from what was a disappointing 2019 campaign.
Will it be Las Vegas, Cleveland, Tennessee, Seattle or somewhere else for Clowney next season? For that matter, might he contemplate sitting out the year, giving him extra time to get back to full health but risking the potential that teams may not chase after him after sitting out a season? We’ll have to see but one has to think that he can still make an impact for a team at this stage of his career.