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Free Agent profile: Edge Jadeveon Clowney

Could Paton replace Von Miller with a former first overall pick?

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Would Clowney boost the Broncos pass rush?
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Word out of Indianapolis suggests the Denver Broncos plan to make a splash free agent signing to boost their pass rush this year, and Von Miller is unlikely to return. The good news is this class looks like it will be quite strong at edge rusher.

One option who could intrigue the Broncos is the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, Jadeveon Clowney.

Player Profile

Height: 6-5
Weight: 255 pounds
Age: 29 years old
Experience: 8 seasons

Why it makes sense

The Broncos sorely need an edge rusher who is good enough to be a difference maker in 2022 and young enough to remain a core member on defense going forward. Von Miller finished fourth on the Broncos in pressures despite playing in just seven games in 2021, and the pass rush cratered without him. After he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams the Broncos were extremely dependent on Vic Fangio’s scheme to generate pressure.

Additionally, Bradley Chubb’s been on Injured Reserve during three of his four seasons in the NFL with lower body injuries. Malik Reed is a Restricted Free Agent after his least productive season in the league. There is distinct possibility Chubb and Reed aren’t members of the Broncos after the 2022 season.

Clowney’s age, pedigree, and production make him an intriguing possibility. A three time Pro Bowler who’s notched 41 sacks in his career, Clowney’s a strong run defender who’s found success as a chess piece moving around defensive fronts: Sports Info Solutions credits him with 286 pressures since 2016. Having just turned 29, so there’s less risk of an age related decline than they’d face with a Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, or Miller.

Why it doesn’t make sense

Clowney’s a risky signing because of his injury history and scheme fit.

The former first overall pick has played in 102 of 134 potential games in his career, and has missed time because of a multitude of injuries. There’s been multiple strains and sprains, along with a sports hernia, and a meniscus tear that led to multiple surgeries. In fact, Clowney’s played in a full regular season once in his career.

Beyond the injury questions, Clowney’s also a peculiar fit for the Broncos’ needs. He’s at his best rushing inside gaps rather than stressing tackles around the arc, which means his pass rush production is more dependent on usage than the other top edge rushers in free agency. It’s one of the reasons Clowney’s bounced around the league a bit since the Houston Texans traded him in 2019. He’s played one season with the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Cleveland Browns since.

Final Thoughts

Clowney’s one of those free agents I’m a bit wary of as the Broncos approach free agency. I believe he’s a good player who will have a great market as team’s overlook the fact that he had four and a half sacks across a two year span with the Seahawks and Titans. He’s a very strong ancillary piece that’s never proven he can be the focal part of a team’s pass rush, with the most recent example being his nine sack, 52 pressure season working across from Myles Garett on the Browns.

Personally, I’d be excited for him him to join the Broncos as a part of the rotation because of his run defense and the way he can overwhelm interior players with his quickness, length, strength, and explosiveness. However, I believe his market will be robust and someone will overpay. Here’s hoping it isn’t George Paton.


Should the Broncos pursue Jadeveon Clowney in free agency?

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