Remember when Jadeveon Clowney thought he was going to get $20 million annually in free agency last offseason and NFL teams laughed him out of the building? Well, the joke is still on Clowney as he once again prepares to enter free agency without the possibility of a lucrative long-term deal coming his way.
According to Ian Rapoport, Clowney, the former No. 1 overall pick and three-time Pro Bowler, is done for the season after he underwent surgery to repair his left meniscus. He is expected to be healthy again next season, but, depending on what his contract demands are, won't find any suitors willing to pay up for an oft-injured, underperforming player whose performance has never matched his reputation.
After waiting until the week before this season started to sign with the Titans for one year and $13 million, Clowney had the worst season of his career in 2020, registering zero sacks, zero fumble recoveries, forcing only 1 fumble, getting 4 tackles for loss and hitting the quarterback 6 times. That comes on the heels of an equally-impotent 2019 season where Clowney had 3 sacks, recovered 2 fumbles, forced 4 fumbles and had 7 tackles for loss. If you add up those two seasons, which came across 19 starts, it still wouldn't measure up against his best year when he maxed out at 9.5 sacks, which isn't great. This is all to say, getting $20 million a year isn't in the cards for Clowney. Hell, he should be happy he got $13 million this offseason.
With the salary cap expected to remain the same in 2020 and teams not wanting to hand out long-term deals because of financial constraints brought about because of COVID, Clowney will likely have to sign another one-year, incentive-based, prove-it deal. Rapoport said Clowney would be open to returning to the Titans next year. Beyond them, who else would be interested in a player who has only played a full season once, is two years removed from doing anything substantial on the field and has bounced between three teams in three seasons?
Clowney reportedly turned down multiple offers last offseason worth in the $15 million annual range. Joey Bosa and Myles Garrett signed extensions recently that average $27 and $25 million annually respectifully. While Clowney thought he was in their category, his output is nowhere near theirs. In his two best seasons combined, Clowney notched 18.5 sicks in 31 games. In nine games this year Garrett has 9.5 sacks and Bosa has 7.5.
Wherever Clowney signs next, he'll have to prove he's worth more than the contract he's given because it won't be much. If he's as insistent this offseason as he was last offseason that he deserves more he won't find many takers.