Most of the major free agency dominoes have already fallen, but one is still left standing: Jadeveon Clowney. At the start of free agency, it was reported he was seeking around 20 million per season. Based on his production last year and injury history, it did not seem like a figure he would receive. Then he dropped it to around 18 million per season but still did not find almost any suitors. The Dolphins offered him about that much, but he declined. Seattle also offered him around that much, but he declined that as well.
Jadeveon Clowney Took a Risk That Backfired
When there were no other takers, he lowered his price even more, with rumors of potentially going back to Seattle on another 1-year deal. Now even that offer appears to be off the table. Clowney might have misplayed his hand greatly and almost definitely will not be getting the big payday that he was looking for. He will likely need to take another 1-year prove-it deal and will need to have the best season of his career for that to happen.
2019 Sack Leader
A good example is Shaquil Barrett. Barrett left Denver after being an average player and bet on himself with a 1-year $4 million deal. He went on to lead the league in sacks and ended being only 3 away from tying the all-time record. He then got franchised by the Bucs for the 2020 season. That jumped his salary from $4 million to almost $20 million. If he has another good showing, which with an offense led by Tom Brady should give him many opportunities, he will be able to cash it all in the next offseason.
This is The Way For Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney needs to take a similar approach to get what he’s looking for. His three sacks last year, even if sacks aren’t everything, just isn’t anywhere near enough to justify that type of money. He is better as a run defender, one of the better ones in the league in fact, but elite run defenders don’t get paid $20 million per season. The smartest decision he can make is to find a team that will allow him to thrive and be successful. That could be either a team that will have good defensive talent around him or an offense that will score a lot of points and allow for many pass-rushing opportunities or perhaps both. Even if it means taking a considerable pay cut for a season, long term it might be his best option.
That way he can maybe finally have a season that lives up to his number 1 overall pick status. That will also allow him to have a strong case for the bank-breaking contract he is seeking. With no DPOY’s, never having double-digit sacks, and no all pros, he hasn’t given NFL teams any reason to warrant a $20 million+ contract like Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack, who are considered future first-ballot Hall of Famers. He did have nine sacks in 2017 and 2018 and has made three Pro Bowls, which is great. However, it is not elite and not enough to make teams want to shell out the big bucks.
Untapped (Maybe) Potential
Clowney was taken first overall for a reason. Even if he has yet to truly live up to that billing, a team might feel he still has that potential in him somewhere. Especially considering how much the game has evolved over the past few years with the dual-threat QB making a resurgence and a very successful one at that too, elite defenders are more in demand than ever. Clowney had flashes last season and throughout his career of being a truly dominant, game wrecking defender in the NFL. He will need a lot more than just flashes if he wants to get the contract he’s looking for. I hope he finds it, I just can’t say for sure that he will
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