Written by: Joseph Yun
After a months long drawn out saga that would rival the most dramatic telenovelas, it was initially reported by ESPN’s Diana Russini that free agent EDGE Jadaveon Clowney is expected to sign with the Tennessee Titans.
At long last, Titans fans can breathe easy that the top target on many free agent wish lists has elected to sign with the team. The team has said very little publicly about Clowney during their pursuit, saying oft-repeated vagaries such as offers being made and being a target. General Manager Jon Robinson has especially been coy over the intervening months, learning from the Patriots patented school of private recruitments. Russini doubles down on her assertion that the signing is done despite some reports that Clowney is still being recruited.
UPDATE: Josina Anderson has reported overnight that Clowney has officially elected to sign with the Titans after a last-second fiscal recruiting pitch by Saints failed to sway the pass rusher to recant his commitment to the Nashville based outfit.
Clowney is intimately familiar with head coach Mike Vrabel’s defensive preferences as the coach served on Houston’s staff while both parties were Texans. The verbiage may be different but the scheme may not be. He was at his most productive when he was under Vrabel’s tutelage so Titans fans are excited, to say the least.
What does Clowney bring to the Titans?
Pedigree and system familiarity notwithstanding, he would bring immense relief to a defense starved of edge pressure outside of emerging star Harold Landry as the other pass rushers are a bit unproven. It would help relieve the burden that stars such as Jayon Brown, Vic Beasley, Rashaan Evans, and Jeffery Simmons would carry as the key cogs of a standout stop unit. Not to mention reliable talents such as DaQuan Jones and Jack Crawford.
Clowney’s three sacks in 2019 would have been good for fifth on the team and fourth overall amongst front seven players. He would effectively replace what the traded Jurrell Casey would likely have done.
His impact isn’t totally dependent on sack totals as he’s been graded highly in both the run game as well as delivering pressures for linemates.
Clowney would give the Titans one of the more athletic defensive fronts in the entire NFL alongside Landry, Beasley, and Simmons. He would also help relegate the likes of Kamalei Correa and others to a more ideal backup role instead of having to rely on them as key contributors.
Salary Cap Implications
The Titans (pre-Clowney) currently stand in 11th place in terms of cap room with $22,457,753 (according to overthecap.com) so they can comfortably afford his deal. Although a bit premature, PFT has reported his salary to be $12 million.
(It has been confirmed to be a 1-year, $15 million since this was written.)
The bigger implication is that the team will need some cap magic next season since they will likely have anywhere from $10 million to beyond should they elect to roll it over to 2021. The point is that due to the pandemic, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to make the cap baseline a significantly lower $175 million next year. They have extensions due to Jayon Brown, Jonnu Smith on top of possible deals for Corey Davis to consider.
What does it all mean?
It’s time to get excited, Titans fans! A high impact pass rusher is coming to town in a similar fashion that Jon Robinson found star safety Kenny Vaccaro (barring any last-second setbacks). Clowney has medical risks, sure, but when he’s right, he’s awe-inspiring. Could there be a possibility that Clowney sticks around beyond 2020?