The Jadeveon Clowney Saga — we’ve now certainly crossed the imaginary threshold of time required for it to qualify as a “saga” — continues to twist and turn slowly a month and a half into free agency. Nothing is concrete or definitive by any means, but the tea leaves seem to be pointing towards a possible reunion between the talented defender and the position coach that helped develop him.
On Monday, Jon Robinson was asked about the status of talks with Clowney and his response seemed to indicate that there had been no real change in the situation since the last time Robinson talked to the press.
“You have to have a couple of scenarios mapped out,” Robinson said. “We haven’t closed the door on anything (with Clowney), but we really haven’t inched closer to having any finality to that either. He’s obviously a good football player.
“I think where we’re at, depending on who we pick, could potentially impact that. But I would say it doesn’t close the door on it completely either - you don’t ever close the door on potentially adding good football players to your team. So we’ll just kind of take it how it goes and probably circle back with that one either here this week or next week after the draft is over.”
The second half of that statement feels — to me — like a little bit of a public negotiating flex from the Titans GM intended for the ears of Clowney’s agent. I’m sure there are some edge rushers that the team likes in this draft, but they’re highly unlikely to find anyone as impactful as Clowney with the 29th overall pick.
If they sit pat at edge early in the draft — as I suspect they will with a relatively weak edge class — that could certainly add more urgency to Robinson’s side of the negotiating table. And even if they do make a pick at the position, I find it hard to believe that any draft pick they make — short of maybe K’Lavon Chaisson falling in their lap — would change their interest in signing Clowney too substantially.
That brings us to the other part of the Clowney update... ESPN’s Dianna Russini was asked to predict where Clowney would end up during a segment on ESPN Seattle’s Danny & Gallant radio show yesterday and she went with the Titans. You can hear her exact words here:
Normally, I wouldn’t give too much weight to an ESPN personality making a prediction like this, but with Clowney and the Titans and Russini, I think it’s at least noteworthy. After all, Russini was on the Ryan Tannehill contract extension talks first and she — along with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport — was very early on the “Titans are out on Brady, focused on Tannehill” reports in the days before Tannehill’s extension was announced. Russini was also the first to get the Vic Beasley-to-Tennessee news.
It’s unclear why or how, but Russini has been early on enough Titans news to make her someone to pay attention to with information like this. Clearly, a prediction is not the same as a report, but there is reason to believe that her guess might be more educated than just pure speculation.
Seahawks GM John Schneider did publicly comment on the Clowney situation shortly after Russini’s radio appearance, saying that the proverbial door “is not closed”, but that Seattle has effectively moved on about it’s business.
“He came in, did a great job for us,” Schneider said of Clowney in a pre-draft video conference. “We made an effort to re-sign him. We’d still — the door is not closed, but we couldn’t wait any longer. We had to conduct business, and so he knew that. Everything was real cordial. He’s a great guy, represented by a great guy. I go all the way back to Brett Favre [in Green Bay] with his representative, Bus Cook. We’ve had great conversations. He just is going to kind of feel his way through this odd process, and we’ll see where that goes.”
With the magic date of April 27th — after which signing Clowney would no longer cancel out the 2021 3rd round compensatory pick that the Titans are likely to receive in return for Jack Conklin signing in Cleveland — quickly approaching, the Titans seem to be the last team left standing in the pursuit of Clowney. As Russini notes in her comments, another team could always jump in after the draft, but right now it sounds like the Titans are viewed as the odds on favorite.