Outside of Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, there may not be a better pass rushing free agent than Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. After battling injuries early in his career, the former first overall pick has established himself as one of the best edge rushers in the league. Disrupting the quarterback is a valuable skill in today’s pass-happy NFL, and Clowney is one of the best free agents at getting to the passer. Whether it’s by the franchise tag or a long-term deal, Clowney is about to get a lot richer this off-season.
2019 NFL Free Agency Profile: Jadeveon Clowney
Finally paired alongside a healthy J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans had one of the best edge rushing duos in football throughout 2018. Clowney finished his season with “just” nine sacks, but quarterback takedowns don’t tell the full story with Clowney. In addition to his nine sacks, Clowney added an additional 21 quarterback hits and 47 tackles to go along with a forced fumble. Clowney’s best season likely came in 2017 when he recorded career highs in sacks (9.5), tackles (59), and quarterback hits (21).
Throughout the course of his career, Clowney has accumulated 29 sacks, 205 tackles, 67 quarterback hits, and four forced fumbles throughout his five-year career. He’s at his best when he’s rushing the passer, but he’s more than capable of holding his own in the run game. He’s probably not as good as fellow free agent pass rush Demarcus Lawrence, but Clowney’s services will be in high demand if he hits the open market. The veteran pass rusher is entering his age-26 season, so he still has plenty left in his tank.
Clowney will most likely see the franchise tag in 2019. For those unfamiliar, each year a team can “franchise” a free agent from their own team, holding them for one season and paying them superstar money. Players don’t like this because of the lack of long-term security, while front office executives don’t like it due to the massive salary cap hit. Basically, if Clowney gets franchised, there’s a good chance the two sides agree to a long-term extension.
If Clowney makes his way out of Houston, he’d be an easy fit with the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns. As mentioned in the Demarcus Lawrence free agent profile, both teams have ample cap space, young quarterbacks with bright futures, and the need to add another pass rusher. Clowney would be a fantastic fit should either team miss out on Lawrence.
Additionally, the Dallas Cowboys should be interested in Clowney if they’re unable to retain Lawrence. Clowney will get handsomely paid this off-season, but he probably won’t get as much as Lawrence. Dallas will try to retain their own star pass rusher, but Clowney is probably their top backup plan.
Last Word on Jadeveon Clowney in Free Agency
Jadeveon Clowney played up to his first-overall draft selection over the past two seasons and is about to be rewarded for his play during free agency. Clowney is the second-best pass rusher on the market, recording 18.5 sacks, 79 tackles, and 42 quarterback hits over the past two seasons. Entering his age-26 season, Clowney should only continue to improve as his career progresses.
Clowney is most likely going to stick around in Houston for at least the 2019 season. The Texans don’t have any other big-money free agents, making Clowney a likely candidate for the franchise tag. Clowney and the Texans will both have motivation to work out a long-term deal, and the young pass rusher could work out a deal to stay in Houton for the foreseeable future.
Should Clowney hit the open market, his most likely landing spots are with the Indianapolis Colts and the Cleveland Browns. Clowney will probably demand a contract in the range of $15-18 million a year, and both teams have the cap space to make that deal happen. Additionally, both teams have bright futures ahead, which will only add to the appeal of signing. Should the Cowboys lose Demarcus Lawrence in free agency, they’d also be a top player for Clowney’s services.
Just about every team in the league would want to sign Clowney, but not every team can afford it. There’s a chance that just about any NFL team in the league makes a play for his services. However, for some teams, signing Clowney would mean that they couldn’t afford to do anything else in free agency.