NY Giants free agency targets: Jadeveon Clowney edition

In this edition of ‘NY Giants free agency targets’, we take a look at one of the hottest players on the market – Jadeveon Clowney.

Who better to start with for our first NY Giants free-agent target piece than the granddaddy of them all, Jadeveon Clowney? While defensive line seems like a position of strength for Big Blue, adding a player and pass-rusher as high a caliber as Clowney is always something that has to be on the table.

The type of player that can transform the identity of a defense overnight, Clowney is coming off one of his best overall seasons with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019. Although his sack numbers were of the career-low (three) variety, Clowney was a dominant force and catalyst for the Seahawks all year long.

Clowney finished in the top-three in the NFL in pass-rush win rate (27%), and ended up with 13 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a touchdown. While he’s certainly put up better numbers in his career, his 2019 season is the classic case of not only judging a defensive lineman off sacks as he acquired a QB hurry on a staggering 11.3% of his pass-rush snaps.

With Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham preaching about versatility as a key component for their team, few players would help in that regard more than Clowney. Comfortable playing inside or outside, he would be a nightmare for opposing offensive lineman lining up next to Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson, as the trio would figure to be one of the best run stuffing units in the league.

While many actually think it’s somehow a good idea to re-sign Leonard Williams, in my mind, Clowney is worth at least double (and likely more) than the underwhelming defensive lineman. If it comes down to negotiating with both, Gettleman would be foolish to sign Williams without exhausting all possible options with Clowney.

Clowney is a classic case of a player than consistently faces double – and even triple – teams throughout the course of the game, which would and has free up so much for other players on his defenses. A 2016 All-Pro, Clowney is still only 27-years-old and should have a ton of good football left in front of him.

One of the main criticisms of the former #1 overall pick and All-American is that he is oft-injured. However, when you really look into his career, other than his rookie season (where he only played in four games), he’s consistently been there for his teams more often than not. Clowney has played in more than 13 games in every season since that forgettable rookie season.

Now, here’s the main question – is this really possible? When they made the trade for Clowney, Seattle waived it’s right to franchise tag him for a second season in a row. That means he’s likely going to hit the open market, as he’s been waiting to cash in for quite some time now.

Seattle does have $68M in cap space (more than the NY Giants) and should be a factor in his free agency. For what it’s worth, the three-time Pro Bowler seemed to enjoy his time with the Seahawks and came on very strong during their playoff run.

Clowney has publicly stated that he wants to play for a contender – which seems to leave Big Blue out of the equation – but how many times have we heard a player say that only to go to the highest bidder? For the most part, many of the teams with the highest amount of cap space are not contenders, which increases the chances that he’ll end up with more of an upstart team.

Most believe that GM Dave Gettleman will look to acquire a top-tier pass-rusher in free agency, and if we are going to run a base 3-4 defense that focuses on versatility, I can’t see many better options than Clowney. This defense needs a superstar in the worst way, and Gettleman should be in serious negotiations with his agent as soon as free agency begins.

Sportrac Value: 6/$120M

Chance it happens: 2/10

Next: Should NYG move on from Golden Tate?


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