Eagles can’t pass up Jadeveon Clowney again

Joe Giglio
May 30, 2020 - 9:33 am
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Opportunity is knocking for the Eagles again.

Last summer, Howie Roseman chose to protect future cap space and draft pick capital instead of trading for Jadeveon Clowney. In a twist of irony, it was Clowney that played a major role in knocking the Eagles out of the postseason.

Now, almost a full year later, Clowney is available again. With the initial waves of free agency in the books, it’s hard to tell what Clowney’s market value is or where he’s destined to land. The former Texans and Seahawks star has been linked to the Browns (where he may have turned down a significant offer) and Titans. A reunion with the Seahawks seems unlikely, but not impossible.

Then there’s the Eagles, a team that can use what Clowney brings to the table in every facet of the game. 

Before diving into the football reasons, let’s get this out of the way first: Clowney’s hit on Carson Wentz during the Seahawks-Eagles playoff game is not a legitimate or sane reason for the Eagles to pass on a player this good. We can debate how dirty the play was, if Clowney is a dirty player and what would have happened if Wentz was able to stay in the game until we’re all blue in the face. It doesn’t matter. It happened. 

Wentz wants to win, and my guess is that he’d welcome Clowney with open arms, as would the entire Eagles locker room. The play was reckless, but happens to mobile quarterbacks often. It’s far from impossible to imagine Clowney and Wentz talking it out and moving on if the pass rusher is wearing midnight green.

Now to what’s important: Winning games.

Clowney has never lived up to the hype he had coming out of South Carolina, but I believe the player he’s become has been lost because of the player he never was. No, we’re not talking about a 15-sack, Khalil Mack-type game wrecker. But we are talking about a versatile, inside-outside (and even stand up) pass rusher that can impact the game in a variety of ways. Plus, Clowney is very good against the run. His game is more Brandon Graham than Von Miller, and that’s OK.

For an Eagles team that feels like a borderline playoff team (9-7 is my 2020 prediction), a player like Clowney could swing a game or two and change the season. Even in a down year marred by injury issues (often the story with this player), Clowney did that last year for Seattle. We’re talking about a player that almost single-handedly (recovered a fumble for a touchdown, forced another fumble, one sack and five QB hits) swung a road game vs. the best team in the league last November. Imagine if Clowney brought that kind of impact to an Eagles-Cowboys game next fall.

For as good as the Eagles defensive line can be, it’s thin at defensive end. Graham and Barnett are quality starters, but depth behind them leaves a ton to be desired. Can Josh Sweat take the next step? Can Genard Avery play? Will Shareef Miller actually dress for games? Daeshon Hall and Joe Ostman are intriguing names, but far from something a contending team can count on. The 2017 Eagles were the best team in the NFL and were driven by incredible defensive line depth. Adding Clowney can give the 2020 team a similar strength.

While scheme and depth matter, one of the biggest reasons Clowney wouldn’t be accepted by Eagles fans (at least at first) is actually something the defense could use: Attitude. For as many good or great players as the Eagles have had on that side of the ball in the last few years, the unit has lacked an edge at times. Clowney brings that, as Nick Foles (knocked out by Clowney in 2018) and Wentz can attest. There’s a fine line between dirty and playing with an edge, and the Eagles defense can stand to move toward the line more.

I know, I know. The salary cap is an issue moving forward. Hoarding the $10M (or so) that Clowney would cost and moving toward next year’s cap is logical, but the Eagles shouldn’t turn a blind eye on improving the 2020 team because of the 2021 situation. Roseman can make it work, especially if Clowney’s market continues to dry up and the player wants to be in Philadelphia. 

The Eagles are a good, not great team. In a loaded NFC, one win could be the difference between the postseason and watching it from home. Clowney comes with baggage, injury concerns and has never been the all-world player he was hyped to be. But that shouldn’t stop the Eagles from bringing him to Philadelphia to be what he could be for this franchise: A difference maker on the defensive line.

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