Here’s how the Cowboys can fit Jadeveon Clowney under the cap.
The Dallas Cowboys made several high-profile additions to their defensive line this offseason, most notably in the form of Aldon Smith. Still, Smith on his own doesn’t replace Robert Quinn, who signed with the Chicago Bears, especially since the former All-Pro hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015.
Jadeveon Clowney, who’s been seeking a long-term contract to no avail, could finally be forced to reel in his expectations, especially if he prefers a deal in Dallas. The Cowboys cap situation doesn’t lend itself well to big-time acquisitions in free agency, especially with a Dak Prescott extension waiting in the wings and a potential Jamal Adams trade (and subsequent extension). Yet, per Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, the Cowboys are among Clowney’s preferred destinations.
Jadeveon Clowney is interested in Dallas, but is a move a real possibility?
The Cowboys have an estimated $10 million in cap room per Spotrac, and as things stand that is not enough to get a meeting with Clowney, who has turned down a short-term offer from the Cleveland Browns. Those short-term propositions offered Clowney the immediate return of a one-year offer but would’ve forced him to prove himself in the long-term, a request that’s rather understandable given his injury history.
But as the top player at a position of need on the market, Clowney has the clout and patience to sit out until whenever necessary. From the Cowboys perspective, any contract would have to come with less immediate return.
Dallas could re-work the contract of, say, Zack Martin or Ezekiel Elliott, to provide more immediate cap flexibility, but the odds of their overall financial flexibility rising above $15 million in 2020 is slim.
Next offseason, however, Dallas has far less financial commitment on the books, with upwards of $36 million in space. This, of course, doesn’t factor in Prescott’s looming extension, but in this best-case scenario mentality, Jerry Jones and his front office staff can figure out the cap gymnastics later, or choose to move on from Prescott if they can’t agree on a long-term deal. Essentially, a long-term or intermediate offer isn’t out of the question.
Clowney played most of last season injured and reportedly underwent offseason surgery for a core muscle issue. That fact, paired with some inconsistency in terms of quarterback pressures and sack numbers, are scaring teams away from a long-term deal despite his overall dominance when at his best. And the thought of pairing him with Demarcus Lawrence has to be enticing for a team in need of help on their pass rush.
If the Cowboys choose to buy in, they have the money, and more importantly financial flexibility, to make him the next defense star in Dallas.