The Baltimore Ravens bolstered their defense today by inking a one-year deal with one of the league’s most prominent remaining free agents: EDGE Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney, who the Houston Texans selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, has become something of a free agent mercenary in the past half-decade. In fact, Baltimore will be his fourth team in the past five years.
What Does Jadeveon Clowney Bring to the Ravens?
The Ravens saw three veteran pass rushers depart in free agency this year: Justin Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Calais Campbell. The trio combined for 18 sacks a season ago and provided valuable veteran leadership in the locker room.
Clowney won’t single-handedly replace that production, but he’ll be relied upon to take a chunk out of it and help bolster a fleet of largely unproven young edge rushers.
Another year, another late addition of pass-rush help: This time, the #Ravens are signing Jadeveon Clowney to a 1-year deal, giving them a key situational rusher. He’ll complement Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo off the edge. pic.twitter.com/B3JJApZR7v
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 18, 2023
Included among that group is promising 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh. Oweh, not unlike Clowney, boasted some incredibly impressive explosiveness as a collegiate prospect.
There have been flashes, but with just eight career sacks in two pro seasons, he’s not quite excelled at a level on par with his athleticism.
Baltimore’s longest-tenured edge rusher, Tyus Bowser, is looking to bounce back from an injury-stunted 2022 season. He’s been dealing with a balky knee this offseason but is expected to be ready in time for Week 1, per NFL.com.
With those variables in mind, it’s not too surprising Baltimore wanted to reinforce its depth. But the 30-year-old Clowney comes with a few questions of his own.
He’s missed 19 games to injury in the past four seasons. And in three of the past four years, he’s been limited to three or fewer sacks.
The outlier was a nine-sack effort playing opposite Myles Garret with the Cleveland Browns in 2021. Baltimore’s certainly hoping that Clowney’s production this year is closer to that level.
See, one of the knocks on Clowney throughout his career has been his lack of sack production. For all his physical gifts, he’s never been regarded as one of the league’s premier pass rushers, failing to register double-digit sacks once in nine pro seasons.
But sacks aren’t the be-all, end-all, and Clowney’s been plenty productive in ways that don’t always show up on the stat sheet. He’s known for his edge-setting prowess as a run defender.
— 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯 🦦™ (@justinbtw_) August 18, 2023
Clowney was named the league’s 20th-best edge defender by Pro Football Focus back in 2021, ahead of prominent names like Bradley Chubb, Yannick Ngakoue, and Trey Hendrickson. The analytics site spoke highly of Clowney’s well-rounded game in that aforementioned piece.
“It’s worth remembering that Clowney is still one of the most disruptive edge defenders in the league when healthy, though. He has been a 95th-percentile run defender at the position since 2014 and put up pass-rushing grades of 75.0 or higher for the first time in his career in each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.”
Admittedly, there are a lot of variables at play. But if Clowney can recapture that form in an already stacked Baltimore D, it’ll mean bad news for every passer in the AFC North not named Lamar Jackson.