It sounds crazy — maybe certifiably insane bonkers nuts — to think the Philadelphia Eagles have any shot at landing Jadeveon Clowney in a trade. Yet the rumor mill around the tiniest smidge of a possibility that it could happen exists. The disgruntled Texan wants a new home — and the Eagles have both the room on their roster and the insatiable need for a pass-rusher.
The drama around Clowney has reached fever pitch in Houston where the latest prediction is the talented defensive end will be traded before the third preseason game. Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain — no, not that John McClane – went so far as saying he’d be “surprised” if a deal didn’t happen soon.
As McClain pointed out in his tweet, the Texans are in the market for a starting left tackle. They want someone established and young that they can count on to protect franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson for the long haul. Conveniently enough, the Eagles may have that guy in Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
The 26-year-old hybrid offensive lineman — Vaitai plays tackle and guard – has already been linked to trade talks, plus the Eagles suddenly have amazing depth at the position with the emergence of Jordan Mailata and Matt Pryor. Rookie tackle Andre Dillard has also been stoking the Clowney-to-Philadelphia flames with his stellar play on the Eagles’ offensive line.
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Why is Jadeveon Clowney Holding Out?
How is one of the best pure pass-rushers in the NFL even available? Clowney has been holding out and hasn’t reported to Texans training camp after the team placed the dreaded franchise tag on him.
Players never like being franchised to begin with, but Houston complicated the matter when they tagged the defensive end as a linebacker instead of a defensive end. No big deal, right? Wrong. The discrepancy between the two positions has a monetary value of approximately $1.7 million.
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been a monster on the edge. The 26-year-old compiled nine sacks and 47 tackles last season in Houston and earned his third straight Pro Bowl selection. In five NFL seasons, Clowney has racked up 29 sacks and 205 tackles while only miss seven total games.
Clowney became one of only three players to finish a game with seven solo tackles, two sacks, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery in a single contest when he did it last October against the Jaguars. The other two: James Harrison and Aaron Donald. That’s great company to keep.
What Would Eagles Need to Give Up?
Normally, the price would be extremely steep for a player of Clowney’s caliber. But the Texans might find themselves in a no-win situation as he continues to hold out. If Clowney were willing to pull a LeVeon Bell and sit out the entire season, they would be better suited to trade him now and at least get something substantial back. The Texans would undoubtedly ask for Andre Dillard in return, but the Eagles could easily entice them with a package of Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Nelson Agholor, maybe throw in a mid-round draft pick, without batting an eye.
The Eagles definitely have the room right now to add Clowney, with about $24 million in cap space. Clowney would only absorb $15.9 million of that. But it would be a bold move to lose all that offensive talent on a one-year rental at defensive end. Of course, everyone knows the Eagles are desperate for a fourth edge rusher now that Michael Bennett and Chris Long are gone. They have also been extra cautious about easing Derek Barnett back into the defensive-end rotation.
And the Eagles’ cap situation isn’t ideal for inking Clowney to a long-term deal. Remember, Clowney is an unrestricted free agent in 2020 and he’s looking forward to a big payday next year, hence the holdout. Could the Eagles afford to retain him on a bank-breaking deal? It seems highly unlikely.
But GM Howie Roseman has turned garbage into gold before — is that the right analogy, Marc Zumoff? — and it might be worth a shot in the dark. Only time will tell. One thing is certain: Never bet against the Eagles’ front office.