There have been rumblings all off-season that star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney could be traded. He is on the fifth year of his rookie deal and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season if he does not sign an extension with the Houston Texans. Here’s the argument for and against the Buffalo Bills making a trade for him.
Trading For Clowney
Clowney was drafted 1st overall in 2014 and football fans forget he is still only 26 years old. He has elite speed and explosiveness off the edge. He has a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, 37.5 inch vertical, and 124-inch broad jump at 266 pounds. That is absolutely outstanding athleticism for a 6-foot-5 266 pounder. Clowney perfectly fits the “athletic freak” archetype Brandon Beane has shown interest in (Ex. Tremaine Edmunds, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver).
With Jerry Hughes being 30 years old and set to be a free agent after the 2019 season, the Bills may choose to move to a younger option. Add in the decision to not pick up Shaq Lawson’s fifth year and Trent Murphy’s injury history and the Bills will need pass rush help in the future.
Clowney has had 9 sacks each of the last two seasons while Hughes hasn’t had a 9 sack season since 2014. The Bills have yet to have a bonafide stud at the defensive end position since Mario Williams had a 14.5 sack season in 2014. 8-9 sacks a year with elite athleticism and size with the upside/talent for more would be a threat that scares teams. Take what Sean McDermott has been able to do with outstanding talent and apply it to Clowney and you get a defensive player of the year candidate. McDermott could bring him into his system and take his game to another level.
There is no arguing the NFL is a pass-dominant league now. Having an elite pass rush talent that gets close to 10 sacks a year who can also eat double teams will create a defense that is unquestioned the best in the NFL. Clowney will be the focal point for other offensive coordinators and give teams something to worry about every week. Jerry Hughes is and has been amazing in his tenure with the Bills. But, teams will have to specifically gameplan to stop Clowney from wrecking games in a way that Hughes doesn’t. But at the very least if a trade is made fans can see them terrorize defenses together in 2019.
The Bills are looking at roughly $90-100+ million in cap space in 2020. It has become apparent that spending big money on offensive skill positions is not Brandon Beane’s style. Paying up for Clowney would add a game-wrecking talent and will give the Bills the best defense in the NFL. And with Brandon Beane, you truly never know what he could pull off. Maybe he can find a way to pair Hughes with Clowney for the future. Jadeveon Clowney in McDermott’s defense paired with Ed Oliver, Tremaine Edmunds, and Tre White will be one of, if not the scariest defensive core the NFL has seen in quite some time.
Against the Trade
A trade for Clowney will likely cost some legitimate assets. It could cost a late first round pick or early 2nd round pick. It is possible the Bills could throw in an offensive lineman that shows promise in camp because they now have a surplus on paper at the position. The Texans biggest need is the offensive line. Even if Beane could pull off a deal, the Bills would have to sign him to a lucrative extension. So trading for him would be a double hit.
For being a first overall pick, he has never had a 10+ sack season. Clowney hasn’t exactly lived up to his draft capital in terms of production. He has been productive in the last two seasons. However, just not up to the level a first overall pick should be at. Clowney also carries some injury history but not in any recent seasons.
The only true negatives to signing Clowney would be the cost to acquire him and keep him. But, is that cost enough to turn the Bills away and not even think of making the deal? Is the cost worth a decently productive former first overall pick?