We brought in the closer. 😎 pic.twitter.com/HIJLA0Orng— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 6, 2020
Clowney was “expected to sign” with the team as of Saturday night. The New Orleans Saints were also interested in the defensive end, but their offer came in about $2 million below the Titans’ offer, per Dianna Russinni of ESPN.
Saints’ wild play at landing Clowney
However, the Saints reportedly tried to pull a unique deal involving a second team, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport. In their report, the Saints did not have the salary cap space to sign Clowney to the $15 million deal he was seeking and needed to work out a sign-and-trade with another team, believed to be the Cleveland Browns.
That second team reportedly would have signed Clowney to a one-year, $15 million deal, given him a $5 million signing bonus then traded him to the Saints. The Saints reportedly would have traded a second-round draft pick and another player for cap space in order to acquire Clowney and pay him the remaining $10 million salary.
According to Pelissero and Rapoport, the NFL would not have approved that deal, ending the Saints’ chance of landing Clowney.
“But several executives from different NFL teams said they couldn’t recall any other team executing such a deal involving a free agent who was literally only signed to trade him. One exec summed up the interpretation of the league’s bylaws as: ‘Fundamentally, you can’t trade cash.’”
Clowney rejoins Mike Vrabel
Clowney was the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft and spent most of his career with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks before the 2019 season. He hit free agency this past spring and came to an agreement with the Titans nine days before their 2020 season opener. They play the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in Week 1.
Clowney, 27, is rejoining coach Mike Vrabel. They worked together for three seasons in Houston when Vrabel was the defensive line coach. One of those years, Clowney reached the Pro Bowl after he had 59 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
Vrabel and the Titans reached the AFC championship game in 2019 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
In six NFL seasons, Clowney has 236 tackles, 71 tackles for loss and 32 sacks. The three-time Pro Bowl selection was one of the biggest stars remaining in the free agent market ahead of the 2020 season openers. He is coming off a core injury that required offseason surgery.
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