Jadeveon Clowney is the best overall remaining free agent on the market unless you're confident Cam Newton will look like MVP Cam once he's eventually signed. Clowney's market has been completely dry as he looked for a contract that would pay him upwards of $20 million annually since free agency began a few weeks ago.
Clowney and his representatives apparently read the room and realized that continuing to play the waiting game, especially in the generally uncertain circumstances of the world, would not pay off the way he wants it to. Thus, ESPN's Dianna Russini reported today Clowney has lowered his asking price to less than $20 million annually and it could result in more suitors. The Seahawks and Titans have been linked to Clowney since free agency began.
It was unrealistic to expect Clowney to get what he was asking for; the only defensive linemen in the NFL who make more than $20 million a year are Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, and DeForest Buckner. You can make an argument that Clowney is generally more productive than Clark, but the latter had five more sacks than Clowney in 2019 and teams pay defensive linemen that kind of money for sack production and sack production only. Clowney can be a force all over the line in the right scheme, but he isn't, nor will he ever be, a traditional edge rusher.
Still, in the right system, Clowney is a good player with flashes of greatness and his versatility could prove immensely valuable if paired with a coach who knows how to use it. With a lowered asking price, who might be interested other than the Titans?
Jadeveon Clowney Ravens
The Ravens were one of the NFL's best teams in 2019 but were lacking in one key area-- pass rush. They were 21st in the NFL with only 37 sacks total and their leading pass-rusher, Matthew Judon, notched only 9.5. As mentioned previously, Clowney won't come in and give them 10 sacks, but his presence on the line would open up more opportunities for Judon and the team's second-leading pass-rusher, Tyus Bowser. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale nearly landed a head coaching job after elevating the team's defense last season, and giving him a weapon who could line up everywhere like Clowney would be dangerous for the rest of the AFC North.
The fit is there, but the obstacles involve money, as is often the case. The Ravens currently only have $14 million in cap room, and while they can always restructure and convert salary to bonuses and all the other fun tricks NFL teams invent to create cap room when they should have none, they couldn't make it to the $17-$18 million number Russini threw out there while having room to sign their draft picks. Should Clowney agree to drop to the mid-to-low teens for an annual salary, the Ravens should be interested in making it work. But everything Clowney has done so far indicates he's about the bag and not much else, so it's a long shot.
Jadeveon Clowney Raiders
The Raiders were worse than the Ravens in getting after the quarterback in 2019, notching only 32 sacks. Rookie Maxx Crosby led the pack with 10 and Las Vegas clearly has something there. Otherwise, getting pressure on the QB was a regular struggle for the team. Clowney's name would be a draw for casual Vegas fans and he'd be a good piece to slot into a line filled with young talent but no proven contributors.
The problem is, Vegas only has $6 million in cap space. A long-term, high-priced deal for Clowney is out of the question. But, should Clowney find his market completely dried up due to his asking price or the present extenuating circumstances, it could be a good spot for a one-year prove-it deal. He gets to live in Vegas for a season, enjoy the middling expectations of next year's Raiders team, and hope things are more fruitful next offseason.
The Seahawks and Titans have been the top two teams linked to Clowney. The Browns have the most cap space in the NFL and would be an intriguing landing spot. However, without much of a market, Clowney could wind up taking a smaller one-year deal to get a big bag next offseason.