Eagles: Could Jadeveon Clowney still be in play?

With Jadaveon Clowney clearly not receiving the long-term deal he desired, and the Eagles conspicuously having $30 million remaining in cap space for 2020, is it possible Howie is quietly sitting on another blockbuster move in the form of a one-year prove-it deal for Clowney? Here’s why that might (and might not) be a possibility.

The contract details for Darius Slay were recently released and not only does it reveal a more team-friendly deal than previously reported (only $26 million guaranteed), but it also shows a surprisingly small $4 million cap hit for 2020, escalating to $15m and $19m in 2021 and ‘22 respectively.

Given the team’s cap situation moving forward, one has to wonder why they didn’t opt for more relief in seasons two or three of Slays contract as was assumed—and while they can knock down the ‘22 number to $9.75m by cutting him, that much dead money makes this year’s low number all the more surprising.

Why not take the non-guaranteed $10 million from year three and guarantee it for this year’s cap sheet, which would allow us to keep Slay around at $9.75 million in year three or cut him for nothing; instead of having to chose between keeping him at an unpalatable $19 million or releasing with $9.75m in dead cap? It’s poor long-term planning.

Considering the circumstances, the only way I can make sense of a backloaded contract for Slay with so much space remaining this year is that the team is prepared to add another big number to their cap sheet for this season.

Obviously they can roll any cap space left over from 2020 into future seasons, but all that would do is kick the can of our looming cap crunch down the road. Whether or not they want to use the space available in 2020 to front load a multi-year deal, use it for a high-priced one-year deal, or sit on it for a possible early season trade is anyone’s guess—but the one big-money free agent left who makes sense is Clowney.

I understand the apathy fans have for Clowney given his role in knocking Wentz out of the playoffs last year, but just a few months earlier we were clamoring for the former top overall pick in a trade.

A lot of rumors have been circulating about Yannick Ngakoue being traded to Philly to address our need for pass rushing, but outside of Ngakoue’s instagram posts, all sources have indicated that there’s little to no movement at all on that front.

And I have to add: the idea of trading a first or second round pick and handing out a massive contract to a guy who’s somewhere between the 6-10th best player at his position on a good day isn’t totally appealing, and Clowney can be had at the same salary without sacrificing the draft capital or making the long-term commitment.

Comparing their numbers over the past four seasons, there really isn’t much of a difference; where Ngakoue finishes his sacks, Clowney has created more havoc against the running game.

Clowney: 27.5 sacks 60 TFL 72 QB hits

Ngakoue: 37.5 sacks 42 TFL 85 QB hits

Neither player is the elite sack artist you’d prefer to spend this money on, but they’re the next best thing. Clowney turned down $17 million annually from the Dolphins, so he’s obviously looking for top pass rusher money; but as more time passes its become clear that he’ll need to take a one year prove-it deal and hope to sign that mega-contract next offseason. If that’s the case Howie has the Eagles positioned to be a one year landing spot for him.

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