How quickly things can change. At this time a year ago, the New York Giants were readily listed among the favorites to land former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney in free agency, and with north of $26 million in spending money, the idea of a deal wasn’t so far fetched. Instead, GM Dave Gettleman opted to use his cash on bolstering the second and third level of his defense, inking linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback James Bradberry to contracts – wise decisions in retrospect.
As for Clowney, he failed to find the long-term, lucrative deal he was in search of (reportedly $20 million per year). The three-time Pro Bowl extended his free agency decision into September, ultimately landing with the Tennessee Titans on a one-year, $15 million (max value) contract. Once perceived as a bargain-get for Tennessee, Clowney’s production in 2020 paints the picture of a player who was vastly overpaid.
With free agency around the corner, dreams of cashing in on a monster deal appear to be nothing more than a pipedream for the South Carolina native at this time. In reality, Clowney could likely be had on a one-year prove-it deal, as he looks to rebuild his market for 2022.
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Giants Urged Not to Gamble on Clowney
Considering the Giants are strapped for cash and could potentially be outbid in their quest to retain sack-leader Leonard Williams on the open market, the idea of taking a swing at Clowney on a team-friendly deal littered with incentives would seem to have its perks. Yet, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox urges against the prospect.
While splurging on a complementary receiver doesn’t make sense for the Giants, handing out a prove-it contract to help strengthen the defense might.
The cap-strapped Giants would do well to uncover value on the open market. However, New York should not be willing to gamble on pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. He has struggled to be an impact player away from the Houston Texans and has produced just three sacks over the past two seasons.
Clowney would only make sense if he would be willing to take a bargain-basement deal. There’s no guarantee that the 2014 No. 1 overall pick—who played on a one-year, $13 million deal in 2020—would be willing to do that.
Making a Case for the Giants to Pursue Clowney
It’s easy to look at the stat sheet and say Clowney has underproduced. His meager 11 quarterback pressures and zero sacks during his eight-game stint with Tennessee in 2020 only further backs that notion.
However, Clowney’s value has long gone beyond the typical stat sheet numbers you look for from a defensive end. Perceived as a generational talent coming out of South Carolina, the edge defender was believed to be a perennial 10-plus sacks per year type of player. Instead, the 28-year-old has not yet once cracked double-digit sacks in a single-season over his five-year NFL career.
With that said, it’s not like his 2016 Second-team All-Pro and trio of Pro Bowl nods were undeserved. Clowney has made a living posing less as a pass-rushing ace and more as an all-around disrupter. In 2018, his 48 quarterback pressures ranked sixth in the NFL. In 2019, during his lone season with the Seahawks, Clowney notched 30 quarterback pressures in just 13 games (11 starts). That number was good enough to outpace the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, Bud Dupree, Justin Houston, Chris Jones and Yannick Ngakoue – each of whom appeared in more games than Clowney. Furthermore, Clowney notched a career-high four forced fumbles that season and recorded 1.5 sacks, nine tackles and three tackles for loss during Seattle’s two playoff games.
Knox is wary that Clowney will take a low-priced offer this offseason. Yet, one could argue the NFL somewhat showed their hand last year when teams were unwilling to budge on his contract demands. Coming off a horrendous season in Tennessee and negotiating with teams dealing with a reduced salary cap, Clowney may have no other choice but to take what the market dictates.
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