ESPN re-reported yesterday that former #1 overall Houston Texans draft pick Jadeveon Clowney is “open to a return” to the team that drafted him back in 2014. The former South Carolina Gamecock had all the potential and all the hype entering the NFL draft, but due to a variety of well documented injuries, never realized that potential.
Now, after stints with the Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns, Clowney is on the open market and clearly interested in reuniting with the team that drafted him, per Mark Berman of Fox News.
Former @HoustonTexans DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, free agent after 2 seasons w/ @Browns,lives in Houston &works out at Fairchild Sports Performance.Asked about potential return to Texans: "It'd be nice-I'm a big fan of their new head coach" On Cleveland:"They got a good thing going" pic.twitter.com/7krxy0JxoW— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) May 20, 2023
While so many people assumed that Clowney would be the ultimate sack master coming out of college, he shined far more in the run stopping game. And, the Texans defense hasn’t excelled in that area since former head coach/general manager/a-gap attacker Bill O’Brien traded the former #1 draft pick to the Seahawks for linebacker Jacob Martin and a bag of magic beans.
With new head coach and former Texans defender DeMeco Ryans on board, a focus on rebuilding the once-feared Texans defense is certainly a thing. Enough that Houston traded away substantial draft capital to land former Alabama Crimson Tide EDGE Will Anderson Jr., a player with many similar traits to Clowney.
Oddly enough, the Texans re-signed Martin the other day.
With Anderson Jr., Martin and Jonathan Greenard already on the squad, the question arises: is there a need for Clowney?
And, even more relevant for this new look Texans roster: is Clowney a good culture fit?
Rumors swirled that Clowney was traded, along with all-pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins, due to character issues. Granted those rumors began and ended with former front office albatross Jack Easterby. So, take all that with an NRG stadium sized grain of salt. However, it seems JD fell out of favor with Cleveland for what some might label as character issues.
By the end of the season – during which the South Carolina alum had been benched for his public remarks regarding his playing time and usage in the team’s defense – it was obvious that Clowney’s future would not be in Cleveland. He was released in March, leaving him on the open market once again. That puts him among the likes of Frank Clark, Justin Houston and Leonard Floyd as pass rushers seeking a new opportunity.
Over the nine years Clowney has played on an NFL roster, he’s started 98 games, participated in 109, accrued 320 combined tackles, 224 solo stops. 90 tackles for loss, forced 13 fumbles, recovered 8 fumbles, hit the quarterback 109 times, generated 43 sacks and had 1 interception - not counting his interception in the playoffs as a Texan vs the Oakland Raiders in the 2017 Wildcard round.
Definitely not the stat line of a player who lived up to the pre-draft hype. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a quality NFL player, though.
Does it make sense to bring Clowney back? To pair him with rookie Anderson Jr.? If the former #1 overall pick wants all the snaps, probably not. As a situational player, it just might.
Regardless, Ryans and Texans GM Nick Caserio still need a pass rush specialist to complete the front seven and unfortunately for Clowney, that just isn’t who he is. And, having him take snaps away from Anderson Jr. doesn’t make a lot of sense either.
But, wiling away an off-season day imagining what could have been had the turf seam not destroyed Clowney’s rookie knee nearly a decade ago is still fun.