The Tennessee Titans made it official, signing free agent outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year, $15 million deal last Sunday. It’s an addition to an already solid defense that only makes them better. Clowney was rumored to be a top free-agent target of the Titans back in March when free agency began. It took until the weekend prior to the start of the 2020 season, but general manager Jon Robinson got the job done in time for the Titans Monday Night Football season opener at Denver.
What the Tennessee Titans Gain With Jadeveon Clowney
The most glaring element missing from the Titans defense last year was an effective pass rush. This was painfully evident during the AFC Championship game against Patrick Mahomes. Clowney can wreak havoc on the opponent’s backfield and alter game plans. Clowney’s three sacks as a member of the Seattle Seahawks don’t jump off the page. He did, though, post a 24.8 percent pass rush win rate in 2019, good for fifth in the league, and was double-teamed on 26.3 percent of his rushes, the third-highest rate in the league. Clowney’s familiarity with Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel is key. Vrabel was Clowney’s defensive coordinator in Houston in 2017, Clowney’s best statistical year, when he recorded 9.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, was ranked second in the league. The Titans are hoping that reuniting Clowney with Vrabel will result in more of the same.
Jadeveon Clowney’s 21 tackles for loss in 2017 were good for second-best in the league. He also finished in the top-15 in tackles for loss in 2018 despite missing one game. Clowney is a game-changing, versatile athlete who can play all over the field. As the defensive coordinator for the Texans, Vrabel would often play Clowney at multiple positions, and in multiple fronts. This kind of versatility at his size can make it nearly impossible for opposing teams to game plan against. The pairing of Jadeveon Clowney and Jeffery Simmons, the Titans’ first-round pick in 2019, won’t be a fun matchup for opposing running backs, starting with Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay of the Broncos Monday night.
In Clowney’s first week of practice with the Titans, he was already spotted working with Harold Landry and Kamalei Correa on pass rush techniques. Exposure to a top-tier defender like Clowney could prove invaluable to young Titans like Landry and Simmons.
The Titans were able to sign a top-five free agent this off-season, something the team hasn’t been able to accomplish in recent years. The Titans were finalists for both Peyton Manning and Ndamukong Suh, who both chose to sign elsewhere. Manning wanted to play with a more competitive roster and for a more reputable front office, consisting of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway at general manager in Denver. Suh wanted to play for a larger market in Los Angeles. This time around, the Titans were able to beat out New Orleans, Seattle, Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Baltimore to sign Clowney. The Titans were one game away from the Super Bowl last season. Clowney’s number one priority entering free agency was to play for a Super Bowl contender. With Clowney, the Titans appear to be one.