The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with roughly $13 million in salary cap space, and with a number of other moves could quickly push that number closer to $20 million. With rookie deals and in-season spending on the horizon, the team will need to spend their free dollars wisely, as they don’t have as much free money as the numbers may suggest. Nonetheless, the Steelers will need to fork their way through the bargain bin at the NFL thrift shop to add some talent to this team.
As we sit here today, one of the most interesting pieces remaining is former Texans, Seahawks, and, most recently, Titans pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney’s value is at an all-time low after consecutive seasons of failing to land a long term deal. In 2020 Clowney was one of the presumed top free agents of the class and turned down some long term deals in places like Cleveland. But the market quickly dried on edge rushers and Clowney would have to wait until early September to land a one-year, twelve million dollar deal in Tennessee.
After a zero sack season on a woeful defense, Clowney should once again be looking to sign a one-year deal to re-inflate his stock. In this case, he should be looking for a perfect scheme fit, as well as talent around him to mitigate double teams. That perfect fit could be right here in Pittsburgh. After Bud Dupree jetted to Tennessee, the Steelers are left with just three outside linebackers, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and recently signed Cassius Marsh. While Highsmith should receive a significant bump in playing time, adding an athletic, run-stuffing freak like Clowney to the mix would be a no-brainer. A rotation between Highsmith on passing situations, and Clowney on running downs would best utilize either player, while both could give Watt a rest every now and then.
For the ‘with what money’ crowd, NBC Sports columnist Peter King wrote on Clowney's value stating “I can’t figure out why any team would pay real money to Jadeveon Clowney right now,” Later explaining “He’s been overpaid, played one full season out of seven in the NFL, has 32.5 sacks in seven years, [and] is coming off a zero-sack season.” King would hit the nail on the head of what he would pay Clowney saying “Clowney’s a nice, contributing player, not a dominant one, and unless he’s signed to a deal with a base of $5 million or less and big incentives, I wouldn’t touch him.”
As the days pass, Clowney's value will continue to drop. I think he would wise to jump on a deal should the Steelers offer him one. It’s also not that far fetched as the Steelers seemingly had interest in the former number one overall pick last summer. Who according to Pro Football Network insider, Tony Pauline were “poking their nose around to see if they can sign him”.
Perhaps the Steelers can swing in and get Clowney for a minimal rate. I’m also sure Clowney doesn't want to stretch out his contract saga for entire offseason yet again, and could net himself a deal between now and the draft.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers make a bold, and financially surprising move like this one this year? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.