While offensive players get most of the headlines, defense, at least in theory, wins championships. That belief should have helped Jadeveon Clowney sign a massive contract this offseason. In reality, however, his experience in free agency has been a bit different.
During his time in the NFL, the defensive end has made $50 million. He’s currently looking for more, but things aren’t as easy as asking for a big-money contract and signing on the dotted line.
Jadeveon Clowney’s NFL career to date
When a player has a pedigree like Jadeveon Clowney, he’s expected to develop into a legitimate star. While we’ve seen flashes of the defensive end’s potential, he hasn’t quite made it to that level.
Clowney’s potential first became apparent in high school when he was named South Carolina’s 2010 Mr. Football. As a senior, he became the nation’s top recruit and decided to head to the University of South Carolina. He didn’t disappoint with the Gamecocks, recording 129 total tackles, and 24 sacks over three seasons and receiving a surprising amount of Heisman buzz for a defensive lineman.
In the 2014 NFL draft, the Houston Texans selected Clowney first overall. Things in the pros wouldn’t start smoothly, however, as the defensive end miss most of his rookie season with knee problems; while he managed to get on the field and post four solid seasons after that, things in Houston wouldn’t end happily.
During the 2019 offseason, the Houston Texans franchise-tagged Clowney as a linebacker rather than a defensive end, forcing him into a lower salary bracket. He held out and was eventually traded to the Seattle Seahawks; there, he showed flashes of brilliance, but only recorded three sacks, four forced fumbles, and 31 total tackles in 13 games.
Jadeveon has earned $50 million in the NFL and is looking for more
According to Sportrac’s financial data, Jadeveon Clowney has made just over $50 million in salary during his NFL career. While he’s looking for significantly more money in free agency, finding that hasn’t been as easy as he’d like.
Based on previous reporting from the like of Sports Illustrated, we can peg Clowney’s contract demands at north of $20 million per season; that would make him one of the highest-paid defensive ends in the league. Those demands, however, have left him without a job with summer rapidly approaching.
It’s believed that Clowney has already turned down offers from the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins, and, on Wednesday, news broke that the Cleveland Browns also took an unsuccessful run at the defensive end. P
“I think [the Browns have] been the most aggressive team with him financially,” Adam Schefter said on ESPN Cleveland’s The Next Level, according to Jake Trotter. “And I just think he has balked at going to Cleveland for whatever reason. I think he’s been hesitant to go because if he wasn’t, he would have gone already because it’s the most money. It’s the richest offer on the table, and he hasn’t taken it.”
Eventually, something has to give
In a vacuum, it’s tough to take issue with Jadeveon Clowney. Given the impermanence of an NFL career, he’s well within his rights to hold out for the biggest contract he can get. Eventually, however, something will have to give.
So far this offseason, Clowney has been trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He’s gone on the record as wanting to play for a contender, but he wasn’t interested in the Seattle Seahawks’ offer. At the same time, though, he left “the richest offer” on the table, presumably because it came from the dysfunctional Cleveland Browns.
It’s also worth remembering that Clowney isn’t negotiating from the strongest position, either. For all of his talent and potential, the defensive end hasn’t developed into a massive star; health has been an issue—he has only played a 16-game season once, is coming off a core muscle injury, and can’t currently take an in-person physical—and he’s only recorded 32 sacks during his six professional campaigns.
At this point in the offseason, it’s unlikely that a $100 million contract from a Super Bowl-caliber team will fall into Jadeveon Clowney’s lap. Could he still get paid before the fall? Yes, but something will have to give first.