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Are the Eagles going to trade for Jadeveon Clowney?

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Let’s examine.

Houston Texans v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The idea of the Philadelphia Eagles trading for Jadeveon Clowney is a topic that’s generated a lot of fan discussion lately.

So, is it realistic? Will Howie Roseman actually find a way to land the disgruntled Houston Texans pass rusher?

The short answer is: ‘I wouldn’t hold your breath.’

I know, I know. Sorry to rain on your parade.

The longer answer is best explained by reading the rest of this post.

There have been no actual reports connecting Clowney to the Eagles.

There hasn’t been a single legitimate source that’s claimed the Eagles are actually in the mix for Clowney. It’s all been speculation to this point. And yet it feels like some have mistaken baseless rumors for a trade that actually has a decent shot of happening.

The only time when an actual national NFL insider reported about the Eagles’ potential interest in Clowney was when Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports threw cold water on the possibility.

Hate to deflate Eagles Twitter, but if the Texans were to ever put Jadeveon Clowney on the trade block, I don’t think he’s viewed by the power brokers in Philly as someone fitting their cap/culture situations. NFL is a never say never league, but that’s not looking like a fit.

Robinson later doubled down on this stance:

One more note on Eagles pass rush: Twice in the last month, I’ve asked if there is any interest in Jadeveon Clowney. And twice the response has been flat. His culture fit doesn’t seem right and his extension figures - likely around 5 years and $110 million - are a big burden.

Robinson has a good track record so he’s probably not wrong.

Clowney might not even want to come to the Eagles.

This is a factor that people are too easily glossing over. Clowney’s currently not in the same boat as players who are under contract and can be traded against their will. He hasn’t signed his franchise tender yet so the Texans can’t trade him until he does that.

It’s entirely possible, then, that Roseman has already put together a trade offer that the Texans accepted in exchange for Clowney but the pass rusher nixed the deal by refusing to sign his tender. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that has happened. Just saying that it’s a plausible scenario and therefore it’s misguided to hold not acquiring Clowney against Roseman when it’s not entirely in his control.

But wait. Why wouldn’t Clowney want to come to Philly? Wouldn’t he want to play for a Super Bowl contender?

Maybe. I can’t say I know how much that really matters to the former No. 1 overall pick.

I can say that signing a lucrative, multi-year contract extension matters to Clowney. If it didn’t, he would’ve signed his franchise tender instead of holding out hopes he could receive a long-term deal.

Unfortunately for Clowney, he’s no longer eligible for a new contract in 2019. The July 15 deadline for teams to reach extensions with franchise-tagged players has long passed. Clowney won’t be eligible for a new deal again until after his team’s last regular season game.

And so there’s a lot of pressure on Clowney to perform this year. He’s going to want to boost his value as he seeks to become an unrestricted free agent in March 2020.

Is Philadelphia really the place where Clowney can really maximize his value?

I have my doubts.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has long been a big believer in rotating his pass rushers. Just look at the defensive end snap counts for the Eagles since he arrived in 2016:

2016

Brandon Graham — 75.0%

Connor Barwin — 69.9%

Vinny Curry — 42.6%

Marcus Smith — 21.4%

Steven Means — 3.5%

2017

Brandon Graham — 64.6%

Vinny Curry — 56.1%

Chris Long — 48.1%

Derek Barnett — 41.1%

Steven Means — 5.1%

2018

Brandon Graham — 72.5%

Michael Bennett — 69.0%

Chris Long — 59.1%

Derek Barnett — 22.5%

Josh Sweat — 6.6%

Daeshon Hall — 1.5%

Maxing out at 75% of the Eagles’ defensive end snaps doesn’t seem like the most attractive option for Clowney.

And that’s assuming he’d be the No. 1 defensive end over both Graham and Barnett. In that scenario, the Eagles would be displacing either the Super Bowl hero they signed to a three-year, $40 million extension ($27 million guaranteed) earlier this year ... or the 2017 first-round pick they’re very high on. Phrased another way by former Eagles defensive end Chris Long:

That’s the same Chris Long who retired in part because he wasn’t happy with his projected playing time in the Eagles’ 2019 pass rush rotation, by the way.

The Eagles’ need at pass rusher isn’t as dire as it once seemed to be.

The Eagles are very high on Graham and Barnett as their starting defensive ends. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have traded away Michael Bennett and been so okay with Chris Long retiring. Graham is obviously a more established player in the league while Barnett needs to build on the breakout potential he showed in 2018. The Eagles have shown no reluctance to give Barnett that opportunity.

The Eagles also like Vinny Curry as a rotational defensive end off the bench. I mean, it was only two years ago that he was “starting” on this team and playing the second defensive end most snaps. He’s not just chopped liver to them.

The fourth defensive spot has rightfully been a concern this offseason but the Eagles have had some positive developments in that area. Daeshon Hall has been an absolute beast this summer; the 2017 third-round pick ranks second among NFL edge rushers in PFF’s pressure rate this preseason. Hall also ranked third best among all NFL edge rushers in PFF’s pressure rate during the 2018 regular season, though it was an incredibly small sample size (14 snaps). Still, the point is that there’s evidence to suggest Hall is actually good. The 24-year-old boasts an elite athletic profile and the Panthers gave up on Hall in part because Carolina brought in a new general manager the year after he was drafted.

All this is to say the Eagles seem to be feeling good about their top four defensive ends. And that’s without even mentioning 2018 fourth-round pick Josh Sweat, who has shown some improvement from last year. Sweat’s presence gives the Eagles five pass rushers they like. 2019 fourth-round pick Shareef Miller might be a sixth defensive end on the 53-man roster.

Assuming they could sign him to an extension, acquiring Clowney would answer some long-term questions at defensive end with Graham turning 32 after this season and Curry set to be a free agent in 2020. But that’s a big assumption. And the Eagles will not lack opportunities to address those concerns down the road.

Clowney might not be as elite as he’s made out to be.

I’m not here to besmirch Clowney’s talent because I think the former No. 1 overall pick is pretty dang good. We all saw how he was a monster against the Eagles in Week 16 last season!

But my question is: is Clowney a truly elite pass rusher? Is he worth giving up the seemingly high price it would take to get him?

Take a look at how Clowney has ranked in PFF’s pressure rate since he became a full-time starter in 2015:

2018: 55th out of 109

2017: 39th out of 120

2016: 59th out of 117

2015: 65th out of 108

Clowney’s been an elite run defender but he has not been an elite pass rusher.

Should the Eagles really be paying a premium for those services? What’s the trade cost even look like? A first-round pick plus Halapoulivaati Vaitai? More? Less? Are the Eagles really giving up significant assets player who might only spend one season with them?

I can’t see it.

Sure, the Eagles can fit Clowney into their 2019 cap space since they currently have $18.7 million to work with and his one-year tender is worth $15.967 million. But that’s also cap space that then can’t be rolled over into future seasons when the Eagles will need it now that Carson Wentz’s mega quarterback contract is on the books. Not to mention the Eagles would need to give a big deal to Clowney to keep him. And by giving up a draft pick the team would have one less rookie contract that could help them save cap space in the long run.

The Eagles aren’t going to be the team that trades for Clowney.

Clowney playing for the Eagles is definitely fun to think about. They’d obviously be better if he was on the team.

But this isn’t Madden. Trading for him isn’t that simple. There are a number of factors to consider, as I’ve outlined above. It’s far from a no-brainer decision. And even if it was, again, acquiring him is not totally up to the Eagles.

I think we’ll see Clowney playing for the Texans, Dolphins, or Washington in 2019. Miami has Laremy Tunsil to offer while Washington could fork over the disgruntled Trent Williams.

I’ll be shocked if Clowney ends up on the Eagles. It’s just not realistic.

Poll

WILL the Eagles trade for Jadeveon Clowney?

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  • 11%
    Yes
    (514 votes)
  • 88%
    No
    (4109 votes)
4623 votes total Vote Now

Poll

SHOULD the Eagles trade for Jadeveon Clowney?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Yes
    (979 votes)
  • 76%
    No
    (3187 votes)
4166 votes total Vote Now