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Evaluating 3 best landing spots for Jadeveon Clowney in NFL free agency, including Carolina Panthers

Since being selected with the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Jadeveon Clowney has experienced a winding road during the course of his NFL career. Entering his age-30 season, the 6-foot-5 defensive end is now one of the best NFL free agents available after the draft.

Clowney has bounced around the league in recent years. Over the last five seasons, he played with four teams and most recently spent the last two years with the Cleveland Browns. Following an unceremonious exit in Ohio, Clowney is now seeking a fresh start.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Clowney hasn’t lived up to the hype as the former No. 1 overall pick. He never recorded a double-digit sack season during his NFL career and is coming off a 2022 campaign with only four quarterback hits and two sacks in 12 games.

While he’s no longer an extremely effective three-down defensive end, Clowney can still be a productive piece for a defense. Now that the 2023 NFL Draft is over, signing him or any other NFL free agent won’t impact a team’s compensatory pick formula for the 2024 NFL Draft order.

Identifying 4 best NFL fits for Jadeveon Clowney in 2023

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
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Before diving into the best free-agent landing spots for Jadeveon Clowney, it’s worth taking a look at his specific performance in 2022. Pro Football Focus credited him with 29 pressures and 15 stops, assigning him a 70 pass-rushing grade and a 74.3 run-defense grade.

Coming off a season where he grade as the 27th-best edge defender in the NFL and now on the other side of 30, here are four NFL teams who could be fits for Clowney.

Carolina Panthers

Outside of Brian Burns, the Carolina Panthers’ defense isn’t strong at edge defender. Yetur Gross-Matos, the 38th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, has struggled to make a positive impact since entering the league. While Carolina added defensive lineman DeShawn Williams this offseason, he’s nothing more than a rotational player.

Clowney stands out as an ideal fit for Carolina. He’s an above-average run defender with some upside as a pass rusher. While he can’t be the best player on a defensive line, he won’t need to be on a unit with Burns and Derrick Brown. On a one-year deal, Clowney can be an additional piece to solidify this defense and he would help make Carolina a playoff contender.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have experienced a lot of changes on their defensive line in recent offseasons, including this spring. While adding Isaiah Foskey and Bryan Bresee is great for the long-term outlook in New Orleans, the Saints would be wise

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Payton Turner has largely been a non-factor since the Saints chose him with the 28th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. As for the options behind him, it’s largely all unproven players. With New Orleans still committed to trying to win in 2023, Clowney’s ability to make an immediate impact makes him a fit. We also know the Saints have liked Clowney in the past, but the NFL nixed the previous attempt. Three years later, he can be acquired for a much cheaper price.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are still flush with cap space, so the ability to afford Jadeveon Clowney isn’t an issue. Heading into the summer, the top defensive ends on the Bears’ roster are Trevis Gipson, DeMarcus Walker and Dominique Robinson. Even if there isn’t an expectation of making the playoffs in Chicago, there’s room to improve the defensive line.

In 17 games last season, the Bears’ defense allowed the second-most rushing yards per game (157.3) and the sixth-highest yards per carry average (4.9). Even if Clowney doesn’t lead the team in sacks, he would be able to seal the edge and help improve Chicago’s run defense. Plus, Matt Eberflus needs to start proving that his defense is good enough for him to stick around in 2024.

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