Three-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney reportedly has expressed to those close to him that he wants to join the Dallas Cowboys. And, what’s more, the high-profile free agent would consider taking less money in order to facilitate his desire.
Plugged-in NFL analyst Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network passed along word that Dallas is on Clowney’s short-list of preferred destinations, along with the New Orleans Saints.
“I was told the two teams on top of Clowney’s list, as far as where he would like to end up, are the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints,” Pauline said during his latest NFL Draft Insiders podcast. “He would definitely help both of those teams. Both of them are a little bit cap-strapped; the Saints have less than $9 million, the Cowboys about $11.2 million. I don’t think either of that is going to be enough to bring Clowney in. They would have to do some significant maneuvering of salary in order to bring him in for a year if, in fact, those teams want him. I don’t know that they want him. I know Clowney wouldn’t mind ending up with the Cowboys or the Saints, from what I’m told.”
Following a 13-game stint in Seattle last season, Clowney has languished on the open market, failing to draw the salary he allegedly sought — $20 million annually, nearly franchise quarterback money. He reportedly has since lowered his asking price to around $17-18 million per year and drawn offers from suitors such as the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns.
The Seahawks are also interested in re-signing the former Texans No. 1 overall pick, who underwent sports hernia surgery in February, not long before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered NFL facilities and prevented Clowney from taking visits (and associated physicals).
Based on what Pauline is hearing, as pertains to Clowney’s criteria, it’s likely he returns to his 2019 employer or agrees to a potential prove-it contract with the Titans.
“What I’m told is right now — by people in his camp — that Clowney would be just as happy signing a one-year deal with a playoff-contending team versus signing a three-year deal with a middle-of-the-road franchise,” he said. “If he can get a decent one-year deal from a team that was in the playoffs, a team that he could help take to the next level, I’m told, he would be very happy to do that.”
A decorated college sensation and a good (but arguably not great) pro, Clowney has collected 236 tackles (172 solo), 32 sacks, 14 pass breakups and nine forced fumbles across six professional seasons, split between the Texans and Seahawks. He notched 31 tackles, four FFs, three sacks, three PBUs, an interception, and defensive touchdown in 2019, earning Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 overall grade for edge defenders.
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Cowboys Had No Interest in March
At the onset of the second wave of free agency, NFL insider Aaron Wilson reported the Cowboys “are not among the teams” in the Clowney sweepstakes. This burst the bubble of many a Dallas fan hoping he’d take his talents to the Lone Star State, a possibility first conjured up by former Browns All-Pro tackle-turned-analyst Joe Thomas, who predicted Clowney would sign with the silver and blue.
“I think the Cowboys are the team that is going to land Jadeveon Clowney,” Thomas said in March, via RJ Ochoa of Blogging The Boys. “They just lost Robert Quinn. They’re looking for somebody who can make an impact on that defense because they think they have a championship roster everywhere else.”
The Cowboys did well to replace Quinn and former starting defensive tackle Maliek Collins by signing free-agent veterans Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Aldon Smith, retaining starters Tyrone Crawford and Antwaun Woods, and using a third-round draft selection on defensive end Neville Gallimore.
Even if the team shared a mutual interest in Clowney, they’re currently hamstrung by several bloated contracts and cap charges, including the $31.4 million hit from QB Dak Prescott — the price of his exclusive franchise tag.
Perhaps if Dallas worked out a long-term deal with Prescott, significantly reducing his cap figure, the brain trust could make a run at Clowney, who’d slide in as a lethal bookend to $105 million man DeMarcus Lawrence. Until then, however, it’s the pipiest of pipe dreams.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL