Maybe free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a genius. By not signing with an NFL team yet, he doesn't have to go through the rigors of a training camp or perhaps risk being exposed to the coronavirus. And as a free agent, Clowney didn't face any hard deadline – which was Thursday at 4 p.m. ET – of opting out of the season.
In theory, he can take his time signing with a team, and there has been no indication that Clowney doesn't want to play this season. Clowney didn't report until the end of August last year, for example. But he would have to go through a five-day process of passing COVID-19 tests in this very unusual year before being allowed in any team facilities to simply get a physical. Clowney has had two major surgeries in his career and no team will sign him without a physical.
The Tennessee Titans remain the favorites to sign the former No. 1 overall pick, although Coach Mike Vrabel is clearly getting tired of all the questions by the media, saying this recently: "Right now, J.D. is not under contract with the Tennessee Titans – that's all I can tell you guys. He is a free agent, one that we've had contact with. But he is not under contract with the Tennessee Titans, and that's all I can tell you."
The odd Vic Beasley saga could speed up a potential Clowney signing by the Titans. Beasley, the former Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher, signed a one-year, $9 million deal in free agency back in March. The outside linebacker led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2016 but hasn't been close to that good since.
Beasley has yet to report to training camp, but he also didn't opt out by Thursday's deadline and the Titans seem to have no clue what's going on. As of now, Beasley is subject to $500,000 in fines ($50K for each day missed) and that will continue to grow. In addition, the Titans could recoup more than $1 million of his $6 million signing bonus. Had Beasley opted out, he wouldn't have been subject to any fines.
Update: Beasley reported Friday morning, but that doesn't change the Titans' favored role for Clowney. They were interested regardless, need more pass-rushing help and have plenty of salary cap room.
Clowney returning to the Seattle Seahawks always had been a very high possibility, but the NFL Network's Mike Silver reported this week that the Seahawks "appear to have moved on" and could be targeting defensive end Everson Griffen or linebacker Clay Matthews instead.
Griffen and Matthews played at USC for current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and both would come much cheaper than Clowney, who is looking for something in the neighborhood of $17 million per season. Seattle already boosted its defense with the Jamal Adams trade -- which actually opened up more cap room for the Seahawks.
Adams was dealt by the New York Jets, with Seattle sending a few draft picks as well as safety Bradley McDougald to New York. McDougald then said on Twitter that he had spoken to Clowney and that Clowney "told me to the tell the @nyjets to come get him!!"
However, ESPN has reported the Jets have no interest. After trading Adams and losing CJ Mosley to an opt out, the Jets appear to be in a bit of transition mode on defense, and adding Clowney on a huge one-year contract might not make much sense.
Finally, New England all of a sudden has a ton of cap space – partly through contract settlements regarding Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez -- and a huge need on defense after losing starters Dont'a Hightower and Patrick Chung to opt-outs. The Pats lost a league-high eight players to opt-outs, which also opened up cap room.
Clowney's best seasons came while he was in Houston when the Texans' defensive coordinator was Romeo Crennel. He basically ran the Patriots' system in Houston as he was the DC in New England under Bill Belichick from 2001-04. Belichick clearly isn't interested in a rebuilding season in 2020 post-Tom Brady or he wouldn't have signed Cam Newton.
All the Boston media outlets have begun speculating on Clowney landing with the Pats to help soothe the loss of Hightower and the fact New England lost three other linebackers this offseason.
Via SportsLine NFL oddsmakers: Which team will sign free-agent Jadeveon Clowney?
- Titans +200
- Raiders +400
- Seahawks +500
- Patriots +700
- Jets +800
- Eagles +1000
- Colts +1200
- Giants +1400
- Lions +1700
- Bills +1800
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