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With less than a week until the 2020 NFL season kicks off, Jadeveon Clowney finally found a home. The defensive end spent the entirety of the spring and summer waiting for the perfect deal to materialize; reports from the time suggested that he expected more than $20 million per season and wanted to play for a contender. While he didn’t get exactly what he wanted, Clowney has decided to join the Tennessee Titans.

So, what swayed the pass rusher to take his talents to Tennessee? According to Clowney, he was convinced by something other than economics.

Jadeveon Clowney’s NFL career

On paper, Jadeveon Clowney seems like the perfect pass rusher. In reality, though, the defensive end hasn’t quite lived up to his potential.

Clowney made a name for himself in high school, earning the South Carolina Mr. Football title in 2010, before enrolling at the University of South Carolina. With the Gamecocks, he lived up to the hype; he piled up 129 total tackles and 24 sacks and even earned some Heisman consideration before leaving campus.

When the 2013 NFL draft rolled around, the Houston Texans selected Clowney with the first-overall pick. His rookie campaign, however, wouldn’t go according to plan; the pass rusher only played four games that year due to a torn meniscus and subsequent microfracture surgery.

While Clowney eventually returned to the field and developed into a solid defensive end, things wouldn’t end happily in Houston. During the 2019 offseason, the Texans franchise tagged him as a linebacker; that forced Clowney into a lower salary bracket. In response, he held out, and Houston traded him to Seattle. He made 13 appearances in the Pacific Northwest before hitting free agency this offseason.

Looking for the perfect NFL contract

Based on his pedigree, you’d probably assume that Jadeveon Clowney would have signed a new NFL contract as soon as he hit free agency. In reality, though, the defensive end didn’t land a new deal until the early days of September.

While we don’t know exactly what happened behind the scenes, reports seem to indicate that Clowney was looking for the perfect contract. On one hand, Sports Illustrated reported that he was looking for upwards of $20 million per season; and the same time, though, the defensive end wasn’t only looking for money. After the Seahawks 2019 season ended, Clowney spoke about his desire to join a contender with a legitimate chance of reaching the Super Bowl.

Without knowing how strict Clowney’s definition of “contender” is, there are only a handful of clubs with a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl. Most of those clubs, though, have a nearly complete roster; both from a depth chart and a salary cap perspective, there’s not always room to join a top team.

Jadeveon Clowney ultimately chose the Tennessee Titans for familiarity, not money

After months of waiting, Jadeveon Clowney finally made his decision and chose the Tennessee Titans. Ultimately, the defensive end decided that something was more important than money.

While the Saints apparently made a late push for Clowney’s signature, he told Josina Anderson that his decision “came down to familiarity over economics.” That familiarity stems from his existing relationship with head coach Mike Vrabel; after his playing career ended, Vrabel spent some time as the Texans linebackers coach, where he crossed paths with Clowney.

According to Adam Schefter, Jadeveon Clowney can earn up to $15 million this year in Tennessee. While that’s probably a bit short of his target, landing with the Titans and joining a coach he trusts isn’t a bad consolation prize.

Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference


Why Jadeveon Clowney Is Not Worth a $100 Million Contract