Jadeveon Clowney teams timeline: How 2014 No. 1 pick went from Texans letdown to Ravens renaissance

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Jadeveon Clowney is back. Again.

Clowney signed a one-year deal with the Ravens in the offseason and has become the latest player to excel in Baltimore’s stout defense. Through 13 games (11 starts), Clowney has 7.5 sacks, his most since he had nine in 14 games in 2021, and already the fourth-most for a season in his career. Among 109 qualifying EDGE defenders, he ranks 23rd, per PFF.

The former first overall pick arrived with plenty of hype. At South Carolina, he had bone-crushing hits, racked up double-digit tackles-for-loss each season of his career and was viewed as one of the most dynamic defensive prospects not only in the class, but in recent years, too.

His NFL career has been a bit up and down, but he’s back to being one of the most explosive defensive players in the league, and a key piece of a dominant Ravens team.

How did he get to this point? Here’s what you need to know.

Where did Jadeveon Clowney go to college?

Clowney has always been a star talent. Coming out of South Pointe High in Rock Hill, S.C., Clowney was the 247Sports Composite Rankings No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2011. He had a perfect 1.0000 rating, tied for the best rating of all time.

He wound up committing to home state South Carolina. Though he considered going to Clemson, another South Carolina school close to home, he said that he wanted to play in the SEC, according to ESPN.

“I chose them because it’s close to home,” Clowney said, per ESPN. “I chose them because I have friends there and my mom can come see me all the time. I can’t wait to play with Gerald Dixon [South Pointe teammate who signed with South Carolina] and with all those boys.”

While at South Carolina, Clowney was a dominant defensive player, posting impressive tackle-for-loss numbers every season, ultimately finishing his three-year career at South Carolina with 47 tackles for loss. He was twice named a first-team All-American, in 2012 and 2013. He also earned the Ted Hendricks Award for the top defensive end in college football and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, both coming in 2012.

Jadeveon Clowney college stats

Year Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks PD FF FR
2011 17 19 36 12 8 1 5 0
2012 40 14 54 23.5 13 2 3 1
2013 28 11 39 11.5 3 4 1 0
Career 85 44 129 47 24 7 9 1

Jadeveon Clowney draft class

Coming into the NFL draft, Clowney was described by many as being among the most talented players in the class, and a potential candidate to go first overall.

“Clowney’s a rare talent, basically to the defensive end spot what Andrew Luck and RG III were to the quarterback position,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said at the time. “These type of prospects just don’t come along very often.”

NFL draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki wrote the following about Clowney:

A physical specimen with a rare size-speed combination, Clowney was not as impactful as a junior while playing through injuries and being forced to deal with opposing offenses that fully accounted for him with extra chip protection. Was a 20-year-old junior affected by turnover on the defensive coaching staff. Could benefit tremendously from a stable positional coach and strong, veteran mentor on the defensive line who will hold him accountable, show him the way and serve as a fatherly figure. Is one of the most unique talents in the draft and could easily be a double-digit sack producer in the pros from either end. Is every bit worthy of the first overall pick — will immediately upgrade a defensive line and improve the production of those around him.

Between Clowney’s immense talent and a lack of clear top-tier quarterbacks, the South Carolina EDGE defender appeared on track to be a logical candidate to go first overall.

Clowney wound up being selected No. 1 overall, the first defensive player to go at the top of the class since Mario Williams went at the top to the Texans out of NC State in 2006.

The Rams took offensive tackle Greg Robinson with the next pick in the draft. The first quarterback went off the board at third overall when the Jaguars took Blake Bortles out of UCF. The top five was rounded out by Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins going fourth to the Bills and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack being taken fifth by the Raiders.

Of the players taken in the top five, Clowney and Mack are the only two that have played in games in 2023, and they are the only two Pro Bowlers.

That’s not to say the rest of the class was lacking in talent. Several top-tier wide receivers β€” Mike Evans (seventh to Tampa Bay), Odell Beckham Jr. (12th to New York), Davante Adams (53rd to Green Bay) and Jarvis Landry (63rd to Miami) β€” were selected. Standout defenders like defensive tackle Aaron Donald (13th to St. Louis), linebacker Ryan Shazier (15th to Pittsburgh) and EDGE DeMarcus Lawrence (34th to the Cowboys) also came from the class.

Defensive plays drafted first overall

Since the merger, here’s a look at the defensive players drafted first overall:

Year Player Position NFL team College
1972 Walt Patulski DE Buffalo Bills Notre Dame
1973 John Matuszak DE Houston Oilers Tampa
1974 Ed “Too Tall” Jones DE Dallas Cowboys Tennessee St.
1976 Lee Roy Selmon DE Tampa Bay Buccaneers Oklahoma
1979 Tom Cousineau LB Buffalo Bills Ohio St.
1982 Kenneth Sims DE New England Patriots Texas
1985 Bruce Smith DE Buffalo Bills Virginia Tech
1988 Aundray Bruce LB Atlanta Falcons Auburn
1991 Russell Maryland DT Dallas Cowboys Miami (FL)
1992 Steve Emtman DE Indianapolis Colts Washington
1994 Dan Wilkinson DT Cincinnati Bengals Ohio St.
2000 Courtney Brown DE Cleveland Browns Penn St.
2006 Mario Williams DE Houston Texans North Carolina St.
2014 Jadeveon Clowney DE Houston Texans South Carolina
2017 Myles Garrett DE Cleveland Browns Texas A&M

How many teams has Jadeveon Clowney played for?

Clowney is now with his fifth team in the NFL.

  • Houston Texans
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Baltimore Ravens

After the conclusion of his rookie deal and his fifth-year option with the Texans, he was placed on a franchise tag and traded to the Seahawks. He then signed a one-year deal with the Titans, then back-to-back one-year contracts with the Browns before ultimately signing his latest deal with the Ravens.

Jadeveon Clowney career timeline

Houston Texans (2014-18)

Clowney started the season with plenty of hype, looking sharp in the preseason before it was cut short due to concussion symptoms stemming from a practice before the third game. He missed the third and fourth games of the preseason, but debuted in the season opener against Washington. During the game, he tallied his first tackle, one for a loss, but after only 26 snaps, he had to leave with a knee injury. He had surgery to repair the injury and returned for games in Weeks 8, 11 and 12, but he was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 4, ending his season.

He did not play in the 2015 preseason as he eyed a return for the season-opener and logged a career-best four combined tackles in the contest against the Chiefs. In Week 7, he notched his first sack, bringing down Ryan Tannehill late in the second quarter. Despite Houston losing, 44-26, he wound up totaling a career-best eight combined tackles, including two for a loss.

Though Clowney played in 13 games, the numbers at the end of the year weren’t what many expected. He finished the season with 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 40 combined tackles.

He turned in a better season in 2016. Clowney finished the regular season with six sacks, 17 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss. And in the postseason, in what wound up being a wild-card win over the Raiders, he picked off Connor Cook for his first interception in the league. For the season, he was named to the Pro Bowl and was named a Sporting News All-Pro.

Before the next season began, the Texans picked up Clowney’s fifth-year option, and he responded to the trust by turning in another standout season. Clowney set career-bests with 9.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hits, all of which are still career-best marks. Along the way, he recovered his first career fumble against the Bengals in the second week of the season, and the next week, he returned a Tom Brady fumble for a 22-yard touchdown. And for the first time in his career, he was active for all 16 games. The season merited another Pro Bowl selection, though due to surgery, he wound up missing the game. 

The 2018 season wound up being his final campaign with the Texans. The year started off hot, with him turning in one of the best games of his career in Week 4 against the Colts, tallying a pair of sacks, four tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, ultimately earning his AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He wound up having another standout game against the Jaguars in Week 7, adding two more sacks with seven solo tackles and four quarterback hits, as well as recovering his second fumble of the season.

That year, Clowney earned his highest PFF grade of his career, coming in at 87.2, including a whopping 90.8 grade in run defense. He registered nine sacks, 16 tackles for loss and only missed six tackles, the lowest rate in a full season of his career.

Despite posting another solid campaign in Houston, Clowney’s status with the team appeared to hit a wall. He was going to be expensive to bring back, and the Texans were looking at the cost of signing Deshaun Watson to an extension once he became eligible for a deal.

Before the start of the 2019 season, the Texans opted to trade Clowney, sending him to Seattle for linebackers Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo, as well as a third-round pick. The Seahawks agreed to not place Clowney on a franchise tag after the season as part of the deal.

Seattle Seahawks (2019)

Though Clowney’s numbers weren’t as flashy in Seattle as they were in previous years with Houston, he still turned in another standout season for the Seahawks.

Clowney had three sacks, 31 total total tackles, including seven for a loss, and 13 quarterback hits. He also had his first career regular-season pick-six, coming off Kyler Murray in Week 4, and recovered a fumble that he returned to the end zone against the 49ers in Week 10.

Late down the stretch of the season, Clowney missed games against the Eagles, Panthers and Cardinals but was back to play in the postseason. He picked up a sack and a pair of tackles for loss against the Eagles in a 17-9 wild-card win. Though Clowney had seven combined tackles, a half-sack and two quarterback hits against the Packers in the divisional round, the Seahawks fell, 28-23.

After the season, Clowney hit free agency for the first time in his career.

Tennessee Titans (2020)

It took time for Clowney to finally land with his next team. On top of the COVID-19 pandemic and offseason core surgery, Clowney’s market did not wind up materializing the way some expected.  And it wasn’t until early September that he finally landed with a team, signing a one-year deal with the Titans worth up to $15 million.

This campaign wound up being the most disappointing of Clowney’s career. He did not have a four-tackle game until Week 7, and on Nov. 21, 2020, he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. He did not return to the field, and wound up finishing the year with no sacks, four tackles for loss and just 19 combined tackles in eight games.

Clowney hit free agency for the second straight season and this time was quick to make his decision.

Cleveland Browns (2021-22)

In mid-April, Clowney signed a one-year contract that could reach $10 million with the Browns. The signing appeared to take some pressure off the star pass-rusher, pairing him with oft-double-teamed Myles Garrett on the other side and adding him to an already stellar defense.

The season was a bit of a mixed bag. From a standard numbers standpoint, it was a solid season for Clowney. He had nine sacks, including four over the final two weeks of the season. He also had 11 tackles for loss amid 37 total, and he forced a pair of fumbles, also coming in the final two weeks of the year.

His PFF numbers weren’t as favorable. He graded at 66.5 overall, bogged down in part by a 21.6 percent missed tackle rate.

Clowney hit free agency but quickly decided to come back to Cleveland, signing another one-year deal. This deal was worth up to $11 million.

And the 2022 campaign was a disappointing year for Clowney in Cleveland. He tallied 1.5 sacks over the first two games, but had just a half-sack over the remainder of the year. He also had only 23 combined tackles after five in the first two games. And before the end of the year, he gave an explosive interview, saying he didn’t feel appreciated in Cleveland, said he was “95 percent sure” he wouldn’t return to the team and claimed Garrett was getting better treatment.

β€œI just feel like I need to be around somebody that believes in me and my ability,” Clowney told Cleveland.com. β€œ[It can’t] just be me believing in myself. I believe in myself more than anybody.”

Clowney was benched for the season finale, all but ensuring the “95 percent” would become 100 percent. He ended the year with two sacks, 28 combined tackles and four tackles for loss, all career-lows for a full season.

Baltimore Ravens (2023-present)

Clowney hit free agency again, and for the fourth straight year, he inked a one-year deal. This one with the Ravens with a value up to $2.5 million.

“They were just so about the players here,” Clowney said at the time. “I felt like that’s what I needed to be a part of. When I walked in, I already felt like I was a part of the team.”

Clowney’s time in Baltimore is far from over, but it appears he’s already on track for one of the best seasons of his career. The 30-year-old linebacker already has 7.5 sacks in 13 games (11 starts) with 33 combined tackles and seven tackles for loss. He has performed well in big games, tallying sacks in both games against the division rival Bengals and two sacks in a narrow loss to the Browns in Week 10.

Jadeveon Clowney contract

Clowney signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Ravens in the offseason. The deal features a base salary of $1.165 million, a signing bonus of $1 million and has roster per game bonuses of $240,000 per game.

Per Spotrac, he has earned just over $83 million in his career, with $42.6 million of it coming from his time with the Texans.

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