Jadeveon Clowney reportedly will end his holdout and show up for Texans practice after they play their third preseason game Saturday. Upon his arrival at the training center Clowney should be handed a plane ticket to Philadelphia.
There can be no debate about this. No dithering. Clowney fits in Philly, and general manager Howie Roseman needs to get the deal done.
It will be an expensive trade for short-term gain. It might take a starter-caliber player, like versatile offensive lineman Halapoulavaati Vaitai, plus a future second- or third-round pick. It might take a second-rounder in 2020 and a lesser pick in 2021. It could mean next year’s first-round pick, but if that pick’s No. 32, no one will care a bit.
It might also be a one-year rental, since Clowney will be playing on a franchise tag tender, unless the Birds decide to extend his contract — a huge commitment — or use the tag on him again in 2020.
So what. Who wouldn’t swap Big V and the next Rasul Douglas for a second Lombardi Trophy?
How is this even a question? This city drove itself insane with its desire to land Bryce Harper. Clowney’s just as good as Harper, and the Eagles are better than the Phillies, and football is king here, and defensive players rule in Philly. So, 18 days before the Eagles’ opener, the town should be Clowney-crazy.
The Eagles have positioned themselves to return to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons. Clowney is the sort of player who completes the puzzle; the sort of player who makes them the favorite. If you don’t think trading a long-term asset is worth one season of a premiere player in his prime, I’ll refer you to the Toronto Raptors.
This is the whole point, right? This was the entire object of crunching numbers and pinching pennies and deferring earnings: to have the $20 million of salary-cap wherewithal so you can make a checkmate move against the Rams and Saints and, most likely, the Patriots. Clowney’s tag as a linebacker, as he has been designated by the Texans, is just under $16 million.
Worried about the Eagles’ future? Worry about their present.
The window won’t be open indefinitely. Jason Peters is 37; will he play tackle — or will he play at all — after this season? All-Pro center Jason Kelce might retire at any moment, according to All-Pro center Jason Kelce. Franchise quarterback Carson Wentz is only 26, but he’s broken a rib, shredded his knee, and fractured his back in just 40 NFL games. Slot receiver Nelson Agholor — whose contributions, according to his coaches, go far beyond tangible results, such as catches — is in the final year of his contract. Deep threat DeSean Jackson, 32, missed 13 of 64 games the last four seasons, which is more than 20%. Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins will be 32 next season, and he calls all-purpose back Darren Sproles “Grandpa”-- at least, he does when Sproles, 36, actually plays. He has missed 26 of the Eagles’ last 37 games (including playoffs), more than 70%.
Concerned about his injuries? Understandable. But he’s played 14, 16, and 15 games the last three seasons, a much-better participation rate than Wentz, Jackson, or Sproles. He also went to the Pro Bowl after each season, despite never reaching double-digits in sacks, because offensive lines sell out to block him; he sees more double-teams than LeBron.
Yes, the Eagles are stacked on the defensive line, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz hates to have any of his linemen play long enough to break a sweat. He uses a variation of the wide-nine alignment that maximizes the talents of pass rushers like Clowney, who is much more than a pass rusher. He ranked ninth against the run in overall play among edge rushers who played at least nine games and seventh in overall play, according to profootballfocus.com.
If you believe it’s more important to play 2017 first-rounder Derek Barnett than to add Clowney, well, I can’t help you. That’s like saying you won’t buy a Bentley because your Buick might get jealous.
By any measure, Clowney, 26, ranks among the elite at his position, which is the second-most-valuable position in football. Would there be any hesitation about trading for a top-seven receiver, like, say, Odell Beckham Jr?
Consider the possibility: two Super Bowl titles in three years after going zero-for-51. The Eagles’ brass, overshadowed by state-mate Pittsburgh and division-mate Dallas and ever desperate for validation, must be salivating at the thought.
Two Lombardis in three years puts Doug Pederson in the Hall of Fame, especially since he’d have won one of them over Belichick and Brady, with Nick Foles as his quarterback. Two Lombardis gets owner Jeffrey Lurie HOF consideration, too. Jerry Jones could be his presenter.
A move like this, coupled with the additions of the Jackson Two — DeSean and defensive tackle Malik — would win Roseman a second executive-of-the-year award, just four years after he spent a season in exile.
Another Super Bowl win, and the Eagles assuredly would lose Schwartz to his next head coaching job.