The Tennessee Titans recently successfully landed Jadeveon Clowney, arguably the most significant name who was still on the free agent market. But there were several teams who were trying to get in on it as well, including the Seattle Seahawks, to whom he was traded a year ago.
Reportedly, the New Orleans Saints were heavily in on him too, and were said to have even submitted a proposal to the league that was not approved, which would see Team X sign Clowney to a one-year, $15 million deal with a $5 million signing bonus, then immediately trade him to the Saints, having paid the $5 million, in exchange for a second-round draft pick—essentially buying a second-round pick for $5 million.
Pro Football Talk, however, reported that the team who first submitted a sign-and-trade proposal was not actually the Saints, but rather the Baltimore Ravens, who attempted to work a sign-and-trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two teams earlier collaborated on a trade for Calais Campbell back in March.
Basically, what it sounds like is that both the Ravens and the Saints attempted to work a sign-and-trade deal, which had never been done before in the NFL—and apparently for good reason, because the league office determined that it was not permissible to purchase a draft pick. At least in this manner.
It’s interesting that the Ravens were pursuing Clowney, however. Over the Cap lists them with a little over $11 million in cap space, so they would have had to be very creative. But the need is there. Matthew Judon had a solid season last year, but no other pass rusher has consistently emerged.
The team currently lists veteran Pernell McPhee as the starter opposite Judon on the edge, with Jaylon Ferguson behind him. McPhee, 31, spent time on injured reserve last season but is the most experienced player at the position.
Between the two, as well as Tyus Bowser, who had the second-most sacks on the team last year with five, they will have to piece together a pass rush to complement Judon, who went to the Pro Bowl in 2019 as an alternate, and his playing this season under the franchise tag.
The Ravens, of course, see themselves as a team very much in a championship window right now. They have only lost three games in the regular season in the year and a half since Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback, and had the best record in the league last season.
The final hurdle is getting over the playoff hump. They have won the AFC North in each of the past two years, but have gone one-and-done in the postseason. They believe that they can, but also know that the pass rush continues to be an area in which they can improve.