Former No. 1 Overall Pick Named ‘Dream’ Marriage for Chiefs in Free Agency

Jadeveon Clowney

Getty Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney with the Cleveland Browns in 2021.

After choosing to release defensive end Frank Clark ahead of NFL free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs have a clear need at the edge rusher position.

Now, general manager Brett Veach could look to address this area in the draft, but it’d be surprising if the Chiefs went into the 2023 season with no veteran pass rushers at D-end. Keep in mind, the oldest EDGEs on the roster are currently Mike Danna and Malik Herring (both age 25) with Clark and Carlos Dunlap hitting the open market.

Defensive end is more of a young man’s position — relying heavily on explosiveness, power and burst — but it’s always nice to have some experience and technique within your rotation as well. That’s why Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine sees Jadeveon Clowney as the perfect marriage for KC in free agency.

Jadeveon Clowney Makes Sense for Chiefs on 1-Year Incentivized Contract

During a March 8 article connecting free agents to “realistic dream” destinations, Ballentine named Clowney as a mutually beneficial pursuit for the Chiefs.

“The Kansas City Chiefs have demonstrated the ideal roster-building approach while paying a star quarterback what they’re worth,” Ballentine began, explaining: “So free agency isn’t about extravagant spending for them at this point, it’s about finding a few missing pieces who could make the difference.”

Despite having the label of a former No. 1 overall pick, Clowney could be that affordable bargain at this point in his career. It’s rare that a top selection becomes a journeyman after never being considered an outright bust — but that’s Clowney’s career in a nutshell.

The Houston Texans prospect ended up in Seattle after five years with his initial organization. From there, he headed to Tennessee and then Cleveland. Although Clowney has never totaled double-digit sacks in a single season, he has achieved nine sacks three separate times, including his 2021 campaign with the Browns.

“Building pass-rush depth is definitely an area in which a free agent could create value [for KC],” Ballentine argued. “Chris Jones leads the pass rush, and George Karlaftis was second on the team in sacks with six on the year… Clowney has never quite lived up to his potential as a No. 1 pick, but he is an excellent run defender on the edge and is generally productive as a pass-rusher.”

From Clowney’s perspective, Kansas City could be exactly what the 30-year-old is looking for. Throughout his tenure in the league, the big-name DE has made it known that he wants to play for a contender — joining the Seahawks, Titans, and even the thought to be up-and-coming Browns for that reason. And if you’re looking to compete for a Super Bowl in 2023, no destination is more appealing than Arrowhead right now.

The NFL writer concluded: “Things did not end well in 2022. The Browns sent the defensive end home after he criticized how they used him. A redemption tour with the Chiefs could result in a ring and a more positive image heading into 2024 free agency.”

This entire scenario implies a one-year incentivized deal for Clowney, similar to the one wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster signed to restore his value in 2022.

Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster Sent to Packers in ‘Dream Signing’

Speaking of Smith-Schuster, Ballentine had the integral free agent heading to the Green Bay Packers in this article.

“Whether Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love is the quarterback, the Packers have to make some moves to improve the receiving corps,” he voiced while breaking down this prediction. “Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs showed varying levels of promise as rookies, but Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are both free agents.”

Ballentine went on: “JuJu Smith-Schuster makes a lot of sense for the Packers. The former Pro Bowler went to Kansas City on a one-year deal to prove his worth. He did just that with 78 catches for 933 yards and three touchdowns. He was key in helping the Chiefs reform their passing attack after trading away Tyreek Hill.”

The Bleacher Report analyst finished his thought, noting that “with the Packers, [Smith-Schuster] could work the slot and become a reliable cog in a passing attack that needed reliability last season.”

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