Jadeveon Clowney is holding out of training camp, and naturally so, some are speculating if the Eagles could make a move for the defensive end. However, it’s time to pump the brakes a bit on that possibility.

Clowney did not report to training camp for the Houston Texans after the team decided to franchise tag him, instead of signing him to a long-term deal. One major point of issue for Clowney was not just that he was tagged, but the Texans were manipulative with it as well; Clowney is a dual-threat, playing both at defensive end and linebacker. The Texans decided to tag Clowney as a linebacker instead of a defensive end, which costs Clowney around $1.7 million. The NFLPA even filed a grievance in this matter for Clowney, especially since he plays the majority of his snaps for the Texans at defensive end.

While Clowney is holding out, he is still expected to report by the regular season, with or without a new deal. The Texans have yet to truly engage in any trade discussions for Clowney, though they surely have received calls from numerous teams around the league about him, and reports say the team isn’t motivated to move Clowney. That can change, but for as long as Clowney is expected to be there once the season starts, the Texans likely won’t shift their stance, which right away shuts down any chance of Clowney getting traded to another team, with the Eagles included.

UPDATE 8/27:

Jadeveon Clowney met with the Dolphins and they are very interested in trading for him. He prefers a deal to the Eagles or Seahawks, but there is no word if there have been any actual discussions. It does look like a return to the Texans is unlikely at this point. The team seems to want a left tackle or wide receiver, along with a top draft selection for Clowney.

In the event the Texans do pursue trade options for Clowney, the Eagles becoming the team to land him doesn’t seem completely plausible. There are a few reasons for this.

The DE situation for the Eagles

As it stands, the Eagles currently have Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett solidified as the teams starting defensive ends, with Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, and Shareef Miller all battling it out for the backup spots. While this isn’t quite as potent as last years group that had Michael Bennett, who was traded, and Chris Long, who retired, the defensive end still isn’t a glaring need. The depth is unproven behind Curry, which is an understandable concern. With that being said, the Eagles are in a good position to not feel the effects of that.

First and foremost, Sweat has put in the work this offseason that should allow himself to become a legitimate contributor this season. Sweat gained a little more than 20 pounds this offseason, which has him close to 270 pounds, a size that will allow him to become a physically-imposing player. Last season, size and strength was an issue for Sweat, which significantly diminished his playing time, but this season, that could actually become something that makes Sweat even more of a factor. The Eagles are very high on Sweat, and he has shown why in the early stages of training camp.

The starting rotation here for the Eagles is a strength if the players do what they are capable of.

It goes without saying that Graham is one of the best defensive players that the Eagles have. Year in and year out, he continues to make plays for the team, becoming one of the rocks on their stout defensive front. With Graham back for three more seasons, that will continue.

Then, there is Barnett.

The Eagles drafted Barnett in the first round of the 2017 draft, and there has been some good, and some bad. Barnett was on the field and made the recovery after Graham strip-sacked Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII, officially putting the Eagles in the driver seat to win their first-ever Lombardi Trophy. It was a play that proved why the team took him as high as they did, and it looked to be the start of something great for Barnett.

However, after week 3 of the 2018 season, Barnett had to undergo should surgery for a torn rotator cuff. It was a tough blow to the defense and stunted Barnett’s ability to grow as a starter.

There is no question that Barnett can play, but injuries have made some wonder whether he has the durability to be a starting defensive end.

The simple fact is this: yes, Barnett suffered a significant injury last season, but it was the only injury so far he’s suffered in his career that’s forced him to miss time. Plus, the Eagles drafted Barnett in the first-round for a reason, so they have to start trusting him sooner or later as a starting defensive end, and they have complete reason to be confident in him to do so.

While bringing in a player of Clowney’s caliber would help almost any defense, it’s not something the Eagles need to be jumping to do. Graham is set to continue to be solid on the edge, Barnett is prepared to have a breakout season, and the depth isn’t quite as poor as some have made it out to be.

It’s also worth noting that Clowney likely wouldn’t be too fond of being in a constant rotating at DE, which eventually led to Long’s retirement and Bennett requesting a trade.

The financial aspect

The NFL, after all, is a business, and money will typically have the last say. For Howie Roseman, that rule doesn’t always apply, but this time around, it might have to.

Let’s return back to the defensive end position to start.

There was some pessimism at the start of the offseason of whether the Eagles would be able to retain Graham or not. However, the two sides were quickly able to come to a three-year agreement, keeping Graham in Philadelphia. Over that period, the Eagles are set to pay Graham $40 million, which is an average salary of $13.3 million per season. As a team, it doesn’t make much sense to bring in another player that would make similar money, but in this situation Clowney would get even more.

Clowney will either be getting $16 million or $18 million this season (depending on what happens with the NFLPA’s lawsuit), and he is primed to become one of the top-paid defensive end’s long-term. For any team that acquires Clowney, the Eagles included, they will have to immediately sign him to a multi-year deal, or else they risk falling into the same situation as the Texans. Right now, Demarcus Lawrence ($21 million/season) and Frank Clark ($20.8 million/season) are the two highest-paid defensive ends. It seems probable that Clowney ends up with a deal worth at least $20 million per season.

If the Eagles were to sign Clowney to such a deal, they’d be dishing out at least a whopping $33.3 million per season to just two defensive ends. From a financial standpoint, that wouldn’t be the most logical move.

Of course, the teams financial situation as a whole can’t be forgotten, either.

According to Over The Cap, the Eagles have just $5.377 million in cap space next season. Not only do they have limited cap space, but the Eagles also have a number of free agents that they will have to attempt to retain. Nate Sudfeld, Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Nelson Agholor, Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Rodney McLeod, and Jake Elliiot are the teams top pending free agents after this season.

They likely won’t retain all of those players as it is, but bringing in Clowney virtually guarantees all of the players above are on different teams in 2020, plus some others would have to be released just to create some flexibility.

Some people reading this article might now be saying something like: “but it’s Howie Roseman, he can make it work!”.

That may be true, maybe Roseman can be the guy to make such a bold investment. However, Roseman has to factor in something that he hasn’t had to before.

He no longer has the luxury of a quarterback who is still on a cheap rookie deal. Wentz has two years remaining on his rookie deal, which buys the team some extra time, but in 2021, Wentz’s four-year extension worth $128 million will set in. Wentz will receive an average of $32 million per season, which, alone, is 17% of the current $188 million team salary cap for each team.

Due to that, the Eagles will have to strategize much more where they allocate their money to. They can give out big contracts, but it has to be within reason and not at the rate they currently are. Instead, the Eagles will have to become more dependent on talented players on cheaper deals.

The best way to do that in a long-term fashion is by succeeding with draft picks. That leads into the next reasoning of why Clowney to the Eagles doesn’t make sense.

The price to acquire Clowney

In order to acquire Clowney, a team will have to likely trade away a first or second-round pick, along with a player. Theoretically, the Eagles could do that, as they have both of those selections for the 2020 draft, but as mentioned before, it doesn’t make sense for the team to do that.

Dating back to the Super Bowl, the Eagles had multiple players on cheap deals make big-time plays. Barnett, who was on a rookie deal, made the game-sealing fumble recovery; Corey Clement, who was an undrafted free agent on the teams most friendly deal, had 100 receiving yards; Nelson Agholor, who was also on a rookie deal, made multiple clutch plays down the stretch; Trey Burton, also on a rookie deal, was the passer in the legendary “Philly Special”.

Experience is key to win a Super Bowl, but as the Eagles showed, it can also be done with some younger players (on cheap deals).

In the event the Eagles get into a bidding war with other teams for Clowney, they will have a tough time keeping up with teams who have a bigger need at defensive end than them.

Roseman has been apprehensive in the past to trade away top draft selections for players who are at a position of need, and is seems unlikely he would be more willing here, especially since it’s not as much of a position of need.

This issue with the idea of acquiring Clowney has been noted before.



Then, on July 26, Charles Robinson with Yahoo Sports echoed a similar premise.

Roseman has made shocking moves before, and maybe he proves many people wrong here and does the same, but making the big jump for Clowney seems to be out of the Eagles’ reach right now, considering the current state of the team.

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