Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Though NFL free agency has been going on since mid-March, several key players remain unsigned. This isn’t entirely unsurprising, given the unusual offseason the league is trying to navigate and the NFL’s early restrictions on free-agent visits.
For players like pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, the lack of early interest likely stemmed from an inability to administer physicals at team facilities. He battled through a sports hernia with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019, and so teams have likely been cautious about his health heading into 2020.
The 27-year-old has had offers, though. Now, it appears his status as a free agent has more to do with his desire for a deal different than what has been offered.
The Cleveland Browns have reportedly offered something in the $15 million range, according to Albert Breer of SI.com:
“I think it’s of note that the Browns are willing to pay a good rate (I’ve heard they’d be OK going to the $15 million range on a one-year deal) to get him, and he remains unsigned. That tells me a couple things. One, that Clowney’s financial desires are still a barrier to getting a deal done. And two, that those desires may come on a sliding scale, based on destination.”
It’s unclear whether the South Carolina product is disinterested in the $15-million-per-year offer or if he doesn’t view Cleveland as an enticing destination. Both are entirely possible. He made it known in the early offseason that he wanted to go to a contender—and that hasn’t been the Browns in recent years.
However, Clowney also reportedly turned down a $15-million-per-year offer from Seattle, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
“My understanding is the Seahawks have been in the range of $15 million on a one-year deal for Jadeveon Clowney,” Florio said on 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes vs. The World (h/t Garrett Stepien of 247Sports). “The Seahawks have been led to believe that the Browns offered 18 [million], and he has yet to take that.”
While it’s possible he doesn’t view Seattle as a true title contender, the Seahawks have been to the postseason in seven of the past eight seasons. If Florio is accurate, then Clowney not being signed may primarily be a product of his contract demands.
The same probably isn’t true for free-agent offensive tackle Jason Peters—though a lack of medical information could play a role. The nine-time Pro Bowler is 38 years old and missed three games last season and all but seven in 2017.
If teams are going to invest in the left tackle, they’re probably going to want to know that he can be a reliable starter for a full 16 games.
Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles are familiar with where Peters stands, having employed him since 2009. Bringing him back is a possibility, although Philly probably won’t do so to replace injured guard Brandon Brooks.
Brooks tore his Achilles while working out and will likely miss the entire season. However, former tackle Tra Thomas doesn’t believe Peters is a viable replacement, per Mike Kaye of NJ Advanced Media:
“It’s extremely difficult, First of all, he hasn’t been in a right-handed stance in years … Being able to get used to being on the opposite side of the field, when you’ve been in a left-handed stance for 15 years now, there’s a lot of muscle memory that goes into that. Two, you’re going to say you’ve got to switch to right (side) and bump down to guard? That’s asking a whole lot from someone with this quick turnaround of time because in a (few) weeks you’re in training camp.”
Peters will probably find a job this season—possibly with Philadelphia—but it probably isn’t going to be at right guard.
It’s less certain that former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will have a job this season, due to a combination of health questions and the lack of starting gigs available.
The 31-year-old has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons and was released by Carolina early in free agency.
Teams have since been unable to get an accurate read on his health, but he has been working out vigorously this offseason and recently posted a video of himself playing pitch-and-catch with Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr.:
Even if Newton is healthy, he’d likely have to be willing to take a backup job this season—and there might not be many teams willing to have such a prolific backup on their roster. Of course, if a starter is injured at some point before or early in the regular season, he could immediately become a prime replacement option.
For now, the former league MVP appears to be taking a wait-and-see approach.