Panthers Sign OLB Jadeveon Clowney

After five seasons on one-year agreements, Jadeveon Clowney will land a deal that covers more than one season. The Panthers will provide it,’s Ian Rapoport reports.

Carolina is giving Clowney a two-year deal worth $20MM, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The contract can max out at $24MM. The Panthers have announced the signing, one that will send Clowney back to the region where he grew up. The Rock Hill, South Carolina, native — who became a No. 1 overall pick after a standout career with the Gamecocks — will be tasked with helping a Panthers team that is starting over at edge rusher.

The Jets and Ravens were in on Clowney as well, but the Panthers may well have edged the AFC squads out with a better offer. Clowney will collect a far better deal compared to his 2023 Ravens pact — a one-year, $2.5MM agreement that came to pass during training camp — and has scored his first multiyear agreement since his Texans rookie contract back in 2014.

Panthers GM Dan Morgan said this week the Panthers had not given up on Clowney, despite a report of aggressive Jets interest. The 31-year-old edge defender will join D.J. Wonnum and K’Lavon Chaisson as Carolina free agency pickups in the wake of the Brian Burns trade. While none of these players is a Burns-level pass rusher, Clowney is coming off a 9.5-sack season — more than Burns totaled in 2023 — and has been productive for multiple teams.

Although Clowney is not a lock to play for the Panthers beyond 2024, this agreement will end his string of one-year accords that stretches back to his 2019 franchise tag season. The Texans tagged Clowney but traded him to the Seahawks, with the trade terms preventing Seattle from tagging the former South Carolina phenom a second time. That did not turn out to be an issue, as Clowney has never checked in as a high-level pass rusher. He then signed a one-year deal with the Titans, two one-year pacts with the Browns and landed with the Ravens on a low-cost accord just before last season.

Not exactly a consistent pass rusher, Clowney has offered plus run defense at points and has been a player capable of providing pressure inside. In addition to coming off a career-high sack total, Clowney posted 19 QB hits and forced two fumbles to help the Ravens lead the NFL in scoring defense. The Ravens were interested in keeping the 6-foot-5 defender, with Clowney’s wife (via CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson) confirming he had spoken with the AFC North team about another deal. Baltimore was probably not as interested at that price. Baltimore is still interested in re-signing Kyle Van Noy, who nearly matched Clowney by reaching nine sacks despite joining the team in late September.

Clowney has battled injuries, with knee trouble a particular issue in Houston. He missed eight games for the Titans, completing a sackless season, and clashed with Browns coaches during his second Cleveland season — a two-sack campaign. Opposite Myles Garrett in 2021, however, Clowney reached nine sacks. Despite Clowney’s low sack total in 2022, Pro Football Focus graded him 27th among edge rushers — ahead of an 18th-place assessment last season. PFF ranked Clowney as a top-20 run defender in 2023 as well. While Clowney’s three Pro Bowl nods all came during his Texans tenure, he has remained a productive performer into his early 30s.

Two of the three edges that trekked to Charlotte on a visit early in free agency have signed. Chase Young did not, opting for a Saints deal amid neck concerns, but Clowney and Wonnum will be key parts of Ejiro Evero‘s defense in 2024. Burns anchored Carolina’s edge rush for five seasons, with Yetur Gross-Matos — who landed a 49ers deal early in free agency — providing inconsistent supplemental work. Hybrid pass rusher Frankie Luvu also left, joining the Commanders.

The Panthers probably are not done staffing their edge positions, with a draft choice seemingly prudent considering the free agency-heavy makeup at the position. But Clowney gives the team a versatile piece to deploy as it attempts to recover from last season’s 2-15 debacle.

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