The second wave of the 2022 NFL free agency period is off and running at a furious pace. As players continue to sign during free agency, rumors for EDGE Jadeveon Clowney continue to be discussed. Which NFL teams need additional pass-rush help and could benefit the most from acquiring Clowney in free agency?
Rumors for Jadeveon Clowney in 2022 NFL free agency
Playing alongside Myles Garrett last season, we saw Clowney return to form, coming a half-sack short of his career-best with 9.0 last season. Recording 53 total pressures, 2 forced fumbles, and 37 tackles (24 solo), Clowney re-established his standing as one of the more disruptive edge defenders in the NFL.
Still just 28 years old, Clowney has plenty of football left in him. Spotrac lists Clowney’s annual projected value at $12.7 million. Given how much other edge rushers have been receiving in their new contracts, it should come as no surprise Clowney is looking for something similar.
The question becomes, where will he play? Now over a whole week into the NFL free agency frenzy, Clowney is the No. 1 ranked FA edge rusher remaining.
Josina Anderson of USA Today tweeted that “Clowney will take his time and look at every opportunity in free agency.” She then went on to say that “several teams are interested, per league source.” Clowney is slow-playing the market, sitting back and seeing how all the teams shake out before committing somewhere. He wants to be paid, and he wants to win.
Rumors state Cleveland is still willing to bring back Clowney
The pairing of Clowney and the Cleveland Browns was mutually beneficial. The Browns had one of the more disruptive pairings of edge rushers, and Clowney benefited from the additional attention going towards Garrett.
In a report from PFN’s NFL Insider and Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline on March 15, Pauline gave the following insight on the current situation:
“The Browns have not ruled out bringing back Jadeveon Clowney, who had 9 sacks for the team last year. Cleveland has been comparing the contracts recently signed by free agent edge rushers as well as those edge rushers who signed reworked deals. I’m told the Browns would be open to offering Clowney a contract similar to, if not slightly less, than the one just signed by Preston Smith to stay with the Packers.”
Other members of the media have given similar reports. The Browns are going all in to win in 2022. This was signified by their acquisition via trade for former Texans QB Deshaun Watson. While the team did add Taven Bryan in free agency and traded for Chase Winovich, would they say no to bringing back Clowney? I wouldn’t think so. I expect rumors linking these two sides together to heat up shortly.
Are the Rams interested in adding Clowney to their roster?
It was widely speculated the Rams were the favorites to re-sign Von Miller. The combination of Miller and Aaron Donald caused havoc for opposing teams and helped lead the Rams to their first Super Bowl title since Kurt Warner did in 1999. Instead, Miller opted to sign with the Buffalo Bills on a massive six-year, $120 million contract.
Since then, Clowney has been mentioned in rumors as the replacement for the Rams. It all comes down to money. Los Angeles is also currently the favorite to sign former All-Pro LB Bobby Wagner after hosting him for a free agent visit. If they do add Wagner to their roster, would there be enough cap space for Clowney as well? The Rams have an estimated $8.8 million in salary cap space, so it would require some tricky maneuvering of existing contracts to add both players.
Are the Miami Dolphins done making moves?
As PFN NFL Insider Mike Kaye wrote, the Miami Dolphins have been linked with Clowney before. The Dolphins are a team on the verge of the playoffs. They are also making significant moves, having signed Terron Armstead and acquired Tyreek Hill in a blockbuster trade.
Generating pressure will be critical for the Dolphins in the AFC East. This was a strength of their team last season. They caused pressure on 28.5% of opponents’ dropbacks (third-best in the NFL). Given the expected development of 2021 first-round pick Jaelan Phillips, Clowney’s addition could substantially boost a Dolphins team trying to grab one of the highly contested AFC Wild Card spots.
Kansas City still has work to do this offseason
Starting from the beginning of the 2022 NFL free agency period to now, the Kansas City Chiefs are a lesser team than when it started. Hill is now in Miami, and Tyrann Mathieu was not extended an offer and remains unsigned. Additionally, both Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes have signed with other teams.
They did bring in Justin Reid from Houston to bolster the safety position. But who is generating the pressure up front?
Despite having a substantial impact on the defense last season, Melvin Ingram is still a free agent. Frank Clark is back on a restructured deal, but more work needs to take place. Rumors have begun to link Clowney to the organization. If accurate, it could help the Chiefs maintain their control on a now highly competitive AFC West division.