Talking Myself Into Jadeveon Clowney as a Bears Fit
On Friday, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles was discussing his team’s needs for additional pass rush help and hinting a move could happen “sooner or later.” Based on Poles’ history (however brief) as Bears GM, it felt like a transaction was somewhere on the horizon. And yet, three sleeps later and the Bears haven’t done anything. What gives, man? My impatience aside, the Bears still need defensive end help. Even though it won’t be much of a consolation prize until the Bears get that help, it’s encouraging to know that Poles is actively seeking it out. And while we’ve been exploring a few names for a while, a new one popped up to grab my attention: Jadeveon Clowney.
I’ve been hesitant to offer up Clowney as an ideal solution. To be clear, it isn’t a matter of talent, skill, or upside. Clowney has all of those (in spades). But Clowney hasn’t been consistent, not lately. And the Bears could use some consistency at that position. Clowney hasn’t performed consistently at a high level since making three straight Pro Bowls from 2016-18. Even still … the juice could be worth the squeeze for the Bears. And Pro Football Network’s Dallas Robinson sees a fit:
Head coach Matt Eberflus wants his front four to get home without the benefit of extra rushers. Chicago blitzed on just 18.2% of dropbacks last season, the eighth-lowest figure in the league. But asking an EDGE group of DeMarcus Walker, Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson, and Rasheem Green to affect the passer consistently could present a problem.
The Bears still have the most cap space in the NFL, with more than $35 million in reserves. They can easily afford a one-year deal for Clowney, who could give them the boost they need up front.
Don’t get it twisted. I like the depth Chicago has built the last two offseason by drafting Robinson in 2022 and adding Walker and Green in free agency. But none has Clowney’s floor. Hence, I have an interest in the Bears kicking the tires. Clowney is not a perfect fit, but maybe there are no perfect fits at this stage of the offseason. Instead, maybe we should be content settling for an upgrade at the margins at an important position (again: at least, at this point in the offseason). A small step forward still counts as a step forward. And we shouldn’t lose sight of that.
So to that end, yes: I think signing Clowney would represent a step forward for this team.
Not just the defense, but the whole team. Chicago’s front office should be looking to win at the margins when it can. And this looks like one of those opportunities. Raising the floor of the defensive line by adding Clowney could have a trickle-down effect that positively impacts the linebackers (where the Bears just spent a boatload of money to upgrade) and secondary (where Chicago has invested three Day 2 picks in two years). There are concerns, to be sure. Clowney just turned 30 and has some mileage on him. Plus, he is coming off a down year. And I can’t shake his recent run of inconsistency. Those aren’t red flags, but there is reason to be cautious regarding a possible pursuit.
In the end, I still finding myself circling back to other options. Because even if I find Clowney’s potential to be alluring, he isn’t the only possible impact edge defender on the market.
Yannick Ngakoue’s steady production over the years makes him feel like a sure bet if you’re looking to raise your defense’s floor. And Ngakoue, 28, is two years younger than Clowney. Plus he has been healthier lately andn with better production. Maurice Moton (Bleacher Report) being the latest to see Chicago as an ideal Ngakoue landing spot keeps the free agent on our radar. A Leonard Floyd reunion seems like a long shot, but it is worth discussing. After all, this front office should be taking a no-stone-left-unturned approach. Although, I would leave the Frank Clark stone left unturned. And considering Poles’ insistence that character matters, I believe that particular stone won’t be explored.