Would Clowney Accept 1-Year Deal?
Free agency began in March. The calendar has turned from March to April to May. Pretty soon, we’ll be in the second week of May. Still, arguably the NFL’s top-rated free agent on defense has yet to sign a contract. Jadeveon Clowney, he of the unpenalized late hit in the wild-card round that knocked out Carson Wentz early against Seattle, curiously remains without a home despite the former No. 1 overall pick’s reputation for being among the league’s fiercest pass rushers.
(Jadeveon Clowney, a former No. 1 overall pick, still hasn't signed a free-agent contract. Could his price tag be going down?)
A report emerged recently from Houston-based TV sports director Mark Berman of FOX26 that Clowney, who trains in Houston, has interest from the Seahawks, along with the Browns, Ravens, Titans and – of course – the Eagles. Now’s a good time to remind everyone that Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman is never hesitant to call and check in on available players, which allows other teams and agents to parlay those phone calls into leaked information that can paint a different picture of the team’s actual interest.
Roseman has talked extensively this offseason about the team’s deceptive financial situation – they’re well under the cap for 2020 but pressed in 2021 and beyond. He can clear space, and has before, but doing so involves releasing players or restructuring contracts. One ill-advised restructure can hurt the team’s overall cap picture (see: Jeffery, Alshon).
The question is whether Clowney’s subpar market (by his standards) would prompt the three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher to lower his demand and potentially accept a 1-year deal. Why just one year? Because then Clowney can try to stay healthy, ball out and hit free agency in 2021 looking to score the mega-deal he isn’t finding this offseason. It’s the path Jeffery took in 2017 when he signed with the Eagles on a 1-year deal coming off his second straight sub-1,000 yard season and a PED suspension that sidelined him for the first four games of 2016. Jeffery played well enough early in his first season with the Eagles to sign a 4-year, $52 million extension midway into the year. We learned later that he played most of that season with a torn rotator cuff.
My sense is that Roseman’s only interest in Clowney would be on a similar low-risk deal, but if Clowney is convinced that he’s better off signing for the short term, he’d probably be wise to re-sign with Seattle. He knows the scheme, knows the culture and won’t have to learn a new playbook without having spring camps and potentially no training camp.
Hurts fallout It’s been interesting to see opinions change on the Eagles selecting Jalen Hurts 53rd overall after recent Inside The Birds interviews with Greg Cosell and former Eagles president Joe Banner. Both Cosell and Banner explained their views of the rationale behind the team’s controversial pick and both acknowledged the importance that Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie have long placed on the starting and backup quarterback positions. Banner even suggested that the Eagles losing out on Russell Wilson in 2012 – he went 13 picks ahead of the Eagles to Seattle in the third round – only steepened the front office’s decision last month to pick Hurts in the second round. Many ITB listeners and readers have said they felt better about the pick after hearing those interviews, but should they? Banner and Cosell each expressed concern about the Oklahoma quarterback’s overall talent and fit into a West Coast offense. Banner said he understood the team's approach but questioned the player’s overall acumen and value at 53rd overall. Banner actually said he probably wouldn't have taken Hurts there. Whether it’s first round or later, reaching for a quarterback just to have a quarterback is the kind of mistake teams commonly make and for which they pay a steep price. Valuing a position is important. Equally important is matching that player’s value to the appropriate draft slot or, in free agency, matching the value to the price tag.
Credit Roseman and Doug Pederson for being extremely convincing in how they rationalized the pick, explaining their history of valuing the position, and admitting to taking an unconventional approach to the position. But I can recall an era of the Eagles blowing draft picks on undersized pass rushers under the ideology that the game was trending toward smaller, quicker edge rushers who can overwhelm massive left tackles with foot speed. Can't block someone you can't catch. Seizing on that mantra, the Eagles wasted high picks on guys like Bryan Smith, Victor Abiamiri, and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, none of which made much of an impact on the team. Smith, a 225-pound converted linebacker who went 80th overall in 2008, never played a single game for the Eagles and played just six games in 2009 for the Jaguars before finding his way out of the league without ever recording a sack.
Just because the Eagles can be convincing doesn’t mean you have to buy what they’re selling. Tragedy for Curry Tragedy struck the family recently of Vinny Curry, who remains a free agent. Curry’s half-brother, Gerald Glisson, died after recently being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Glisson was the principal of Paterson Eastside H.S., an urban school that was portrayed in the move, “Lean on Me,” with Morgan Freeman acting as controversial principal Joe Clark. Those close to Glisson called him “a pillar of the community,” which can be seen in this TV report from News 12 New Jersey.
It was expected that Curry would decide sometime this week on where he'd play in 2020. The Eagles, per a source, are in the mix, but the recent loss of his brother could put Curry’s decision on the back-burner temporarily.