Dealing for Clowney makes plenty of sense
DT would immediately become Eagles’ best player at the position
They’re in a win-now mode but all banged up again, almost as much as they were heading into last season.
That’s one reason the Philadelphia Eagles should pursue Jadeveon Clowney, the rightfully disgruntled pass rusher whose relationship with his employers, the Houston Texans, is seemingly fractured beyond repair.
Here’s another: He’s better than anyone they have now at a position of need.
It might not have been, had general manager Howie Roseman not traded away their top edge rusher from last season, Michael Bennett (9 sacks) or allowed their second-best edge rusher Chris Long (6.5 sacks) to retire without resistance. They contributed more that a third of the team’s healthy number of 44 sacks, which was eighth best in the league.
Without Clowney, there’s little chance that a team whose top pressure producer, Fletcher Cox, came from the inside last season can come close to that this year.
God bless Brandon Graham, everyone’s favorite Eagle, but he just turned 31 and is coming off a season in which he produced 4 sacks. Vinny Curry returned after a year in exile at Tampa Bay, where he had 2.5. Actually the only year that he finished with over 4 was 2014. Derek Barnett, we keep being told, will be re
turning soon from an injury that limited him to six games and 2.5 sacks in 2018. They drafted Josh Sweat last year, but he couldn’t get on the field, then landed on IR.
They drafted Shareef Miller this year and have added some decent-looking veterans in Kasim Edebali and Eli Harold to go with Daeshon Hall, who has been a standout throughout the preseason.
But 44 sacks? Not a chance, even if Cox, who has missed all of training camp rehabbing from an injury, and newly acquired Malik Jackson have monster years rushing from the inside.
Clowney is more than just a pass rusher, too. He’s a disrupter — as good against the run as he against the pass.
He’s a freak in a much different sense of the word than Jevon Kearse, the other freak they acquired just before their 2004 Super Bowl run, ever was.
In addition to his 29 sacks, accumulated over just the previous four seasons, he has 64 career tackles for losses.
That’s basically twice as many as Curry (32.5), who came into the league two years earlier, and almost as many as Graham, who came in four years ahead of him.
What Clowney would cost the Eagles to acquire could be prohibitive, and any trade involving their first-round pick next year or their first-round pick this year, tackle Andre Dillard, would not be recommended here. So lets get that out of the way before going any further.
But the Texans need offensive line help, and the Eagles have plenty besides Dillard. The biggest name is Big V, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who’s proven himself as a tackle and has performed so well as Brandon Brooks’ temporary replacement at right guard this summer that he now looks like he could have an even brighter future on the inside.
If the Texans are OK with Big V and, say, a third-round pick, Roseman and the Eagles shouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, pay Clowney the $17.1 million he seeks as as a franchise-tagged defensive end instead of the $15.4 the Texans are trying to pay him as a franchised linebacker and figure out next year when they get there.
Next year would be the earliest they could negotiate with him on staying beyond 2019, thanks to complicated NFL rules.
But the gesture of recognizing him as a defensive end, which he would be 100 percent of the time in the Eagles’ system anyway, and the championship culture Clowney would be exposed to by making the move could well be enough to convince him to stay.
In the meantime, they improve their championship chances, which already are pretty damn good without him.
Texans defensive tackle Jadeveon Clowney would be a nice fit for the Eagles if they can acquire the disgruntled pass-rusher.