The New England Patriots cleared a ton of cap space with two very important moves on Saturday. That new financial freedom immediately puts the team in the running for some of the top available free agents on the market. Not least of which is former No. 1 overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney who has inexplicably gone without a deal throughout the offseason.
Patriots insiders are already linking the team to Clowney in speculative talks. This is the same pattern that preceded the Cam Newton signing that was predicted, but still felt like a surprise when it was announced. Let’s break down the details of a potential fit, and what would need to happen to bring Clowney to the Patriots.
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How the Patriots Cleared Cap Space
By collecting money from grievance settlements with Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez cases, the Patriots now have just under $7.8 million of cap room available.
Earlier this week, the Patriots were down to less than $500K in salary cap space. They now stand at $7,794,739, with flexibility for in-season roster management. https://t.co/I8DlBa4gAo
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 11, 2020
Linking Jadeveon Clowney to the Patriots
CLNS’ Evan Lazar is a big fan of Clowney landing with the Patriots in free agency, especially now that the team has created enough room to potentially add the former No. 1 overall pick out of South Carolina.
He states his case for the Patriots at least looking into the possibilities of signing Clowney. Like me, Lazar seems some similarities between Clowney and Newton’s situations.
Before you tell me to stop dreaming, hear me out. According to some reports, Clowney is looking for a top-of-market deal worth close to $18 million. But he is still unsigned and is starting to give off Cam Newton vibes as someone that might need a “prove it” year to reset his value. Last season, Clowney only managed three sacks in Seattle, a sticking point for many teams in negotiations, and hasn’t developed into the pass rusher that evaluators expected. According to Pro Football Focus, he has never topped 64 quarterback pressures in a season, and the highest pass-rush grade of his career was 79.7. Still, Clowney’s versatility and stout run defender are perfect fits in Belichick’s scheme. He can line up anywhere on the line of scrimmage, set the edge, and generate pressure at a high rate on stunts and other schemed pressures. Clowney played in a similar system under Romeo Crennel in Houston, and always gave the Pats problems. If they can get him on an incentive-laden deal a la Newton, giving Clowney to Belichick would be unfair to the rest of the league.
Lazar and I aren’t alone in thinking of Clowney as a possibility for the Patriots. CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan also included Clowney in his brief spiel about the team’s possibilities with their newfound cap space.
The Prospects of Clowney With Patriots
Clowney is still just 27 years old, and he should be entering the prime of his career. While he has shown a little more than what I’d describe as flashes of his top potential, he still hasn’t had the kind of season that is indicative of what was expected of him when the Houston Texans drafted him with the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Still, he’s had two seasons with nine or more sacks, though he did have just three in 13 games playing on a defense for the Seattle Seahawks that might not have been perfect for his skill set. Playing for Belichick, Clowney would be in a position to show the league his best, and if he were to take a one-year deal that gives him an opportunity to make a ton in incentives, he could effectively cash in ahead of the 2021 season.
This is sounding more like Newton with every word.
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