Philadelphia Eagles: Wearing 76 would rehab Jadeveon Clowney’s image

Jadeveon Clowney wants to join the Philadelphia Eagles, but is the feeling mutual?

Jadeveon Clowney hates the Philadelphia Eagles, the team’s fans, and pretty much the entire City of Brotherly Love. He (probably) prefers generic cream cheese, puts marinara on his steak sandwich, and has never once eaten a real soft pretzel.

If you told me Clowney was a closet Pittsburgh Penguins/Dallas Cowboys/Atlanta Braves/Boston Celtics fan, I wouldn’t be surprised.

With that being said, Clowney is no dummy. He knows that if he can’t secure a long-term contract north of $18 million a year his best bet is to sign up for a single season in a scheme built for his set of skills and parlay a career year into something more substantial. As you can surely assume, there isn’t a better schematic fit for a pocket collapsing bull rusher who is elite against the run than Jim Schwartz‘s signature wide nine attacking front.

According to veteran sports writer-turned-radio host John Clayton, Clowney may have his sights firmly set on our fair city as his next destination, and may even be willing to take a steep discount from his initial $18 million per year requested salary. Now, in theory, the Eagles really should stick to their ‘diet’ and roll over as much cap space as humanly possible to help offset their massive salary cap hole but come on, adding a former number one overall pick who has been pretty darn good as a pro for $9-10 million is practically unthinkable.

And hey, if rumors spurned on by ex-Eagle Brian Baldinger are of any indication, the feeling may be mutual.

Is Clowney to the Eagles a lock? No way Jose, not even close. Baldinger may be talking about the Birds adding a right guard to replace Brandon Brooks, a guard like Larry Warford or Joe Thuney (more on them here and here), the return of Jason Peters, or even some absolutely insane trade for a player like Jamal Adams – really it could be anything.

With that being said, if the Birds do opt to kick the tire on arguably the best defensive end on the market in 2020, the on-field fit should be seamless.

Despite conventional wisdom suggesting that a wide nine defensive front would be at its best with a pair of tall, long speedsters coming off the edge right at the quarterback, the Eagles have largely avoided targeting these players since Schwartz came to town in 2016, instead drafting, signing, trading for, and re-signing players like Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, and Brandon Graham who win far more often with power than straight-line speed.

Fun fact: Brandon Graham ran the fastest 40-yard dash of that quartet at a 4.7 back in 2010. Who, may you ask, is the fastest defensive end on the Eagles roster? Well, that would be none other than Josh Sweat, who ran a 4.53 40 yard dash coming out of Florida State in 2018.

Like Sweat, Clowney ran a 4.53 40 coming out of college, but unlike his formerly dreadlocked compatriot, the former first overall pick out of Southern Carolina has amassed 32 sacks, 80 QB hits, and 236 total tackles over his 75 game NFL career. In a lot of ways, Clowney’s game practically screams ‘All-time Eagle’. He’s a beast against the run, a pocket collapser, and just an all-around game wrecker. Drunkin fans will declare he sucks because he never quite gets home for a sack as often as you’d like, but as true football fans know all too well – and love to tell you – sacks don’t indicate production.

That being said, something tells me Clowney would make sure 2020 is the year he finally surpasses the 10 sack mark and ‘clowns’ every contending team unwilling to surrender to his contractual demands.

But just because Clowney wants to be a Philadelphia Eagle, and the Philadelphia Eagles presumably would welcome him into their locker room, doesn’t mean fans in the 215 should immediately let bygones be bygones. Will Philly fans welcome an ex-division rival with open arms? Sure, just ask DeMarco Murray, Bryce Harper, or Al Horford, but you have to come in with the right attitude. If Clowney walks right into the gate wearing a Philly Phanatic shirt stained with cheese wiz, maybe fans would let it slide, but there’s one small, seemingly inconsequential move the ex-Seahawk could pull to instantly grab some attention and endear himself to his new city: Wear the number 76.

I know, crazy, right? How are linemen of all sides not fighting tooth and nail to wear the number of the team’s hometown basketball brethren? I wouldn’t be opposed to buying a midnight green 76 jersey if the right player repped it.

Right now, the number belongs to Casey Tucker, who is both on the team… and named Casey Tucker. Assuming he doesn’t switch positions to guard, get really good at it, and go on a dark horse run to replace Brooks, he probably won’t be around in September, let alone if the roster gets trimmed down to 75 before camp. If Clowney wants 76, he can probably have it, unlike virtually every number 90-99, which are all taken by borderline locks to make the roster save maybe 90 and 95.

Presently speaking, there are only five players in the NFL Hall of Fame who have worn the number 76, and they all either played on the offensive line or fullback. Clowney probably won’t make it that far, unless of course he really takes things up a notch on his third NFL team, but it would be pretty cool to see a defensive lineman racking up sacks wearing a less than conventional number a la vintage Vinny Curry in his 76.

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Ultimately, if Jadeveon Clowney signs with the Philadelphia Eagles, he will be forgiven for his past comments. Carson Wentz will welcome him to the team just like he did to every other free agent, and he’ll all but certainly deliver some hollow(ish) platitudes about how much he loves Philly’s fire. But personally, I want more. I want to see Clowney come to Philly, become the team’s most dominant defensive end since Reggie White, and earn a place in the team’s ring of honor after a pair of long-term contracts. Hopefully, the jersey we will one day see hanging in the rafters of the Lincoln Financial Field – or wherever the team plays in 2035 – bears the number 76.

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