The Ravens almost stole Jadeveon Clowney with a sign-and-trade deal, report says

Pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney on Saturday night agreed to sign with the Titans on a one-year conract worth up to $15 million in part because Tennessee was able to pay him more than other potential suitors, namely New Orleans, could or would. The Saints even tried to pull off some sign-and-trade shenanigans that would have made the math work despite their minimal salary cap space, but the NFL reportedly would not have approved the deal.

As it turns out, the Ravens were trying to manage the same stunt, and they would have ended up with the 27-year-old Clowney after a trade with the Jaguars.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, had the NFL approved the sign-and-trade concept New Orleans and Cleveland were trying, Clowney instead would have signed with Jacksonville before immediately being dealt to Baltimore.

“From New Orleans’ perspective, the Browns would have signed Clowney and traded him to the Saints,” Florio reported. “From Baltimore’s perspective, the Jaguars would have signed Clowney and traded him to the Ravens.

“Once the league told the Saints that it couldn’t happen, the strategy was abandoned. If a different answer had been obtained, the Saints would have found out soon thereafter that the Jaguars would have been signing Clowney, and that the Jaguars would have been trading him to Baltimore.”

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport confirmed Florio’s report and added that “Baltimore expored this over the last few days.”

Multiple reports indicated the Ravens had been interested in Clowney throughout his free agency but were not willing to pay what he ultimately ended up getting from the Titans. While the Saints needed the sign-and-trade deal in order to fit Clowney under their salary cap, the Ravens, not nearly as cap-strapped, likely just wanted to use it as a way to obtain him without having to pay what they figured was too much money.

The deal would have been simple. Jacksonville/Cleveland would have signed Clowney to a new contract; let’s call it $15 million for one year. The Jaguars/Browns would have paid Clowney a $5 million signing bonus and immediately traded him to the Ravens/Saints in exchange for a second-round draft pick and, at least in the case of New Orleans, a random player as a salary dump.

So the Jaguars or Browns in essance would have paid $5 million for that second-round pick and the random player from the Ravens or Saints. It would have been the first NFL deal of its kind.

According to NFL Media, “several executives from different NFL teams said they couldn’t recall any other team executing such a deal involving a free agent who was literally only signed to trade him. One exec summed up the interpretation of the league’s bylaws as: ‘Fundamentally, you can’t trade cash.'”

This is an interesting twist to the Clowney saga of 2020 even though ultimately none of it matters now that he is a Titan.

Although now it seems obvious that Clowney wanted to play for the Ravens all along, because somebody evidently notified Baltimore — specifically Baltimore — of New Orleans’ unprecedented efforts. And it definitely wasn’t the Saints or the Browns.

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