Tyrann Mathieu, Jadeveon Clowney Top Landing Spots After 2022 NFL Draft

Adam WellsMay 1, 2022

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 23: Kansas City Chiefs free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) runs a lap around the field with the team prior to the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Buffalo Bills on January 23rd, 2022 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the aftermath of the 2022 NFL draft, teams that were seeking help in the secondary and defensive line but were unable to get exactly what they wanted from the incoming rookie class still have two notable options available to sign in free agency.

Jadeveon Clowney is having another prolonged run as a free agent. He didn't sign with the Tennessee Titans until six days before the start of the 2020 season. The 29-year-old acted swiftly, by comparison, last offseason when he signed with the Cleveland Browns on April 14.

Tyrann Mathieu's extended free agency has been a bit of a surprise. The four-time All-Pro is one of the most versatile defenders in the league, having played at least 600 snaps in deep, box and slot alignments, per Pro Football Focus.

The potential starting date for Clowney and Mathieu to really engage teams in free agency is Monday at 4 p.m. ET:

Ari Meirov @MySportsUpdate

Starting at 4pm EST on Monday, any unrestricted free agent that signs with a new team will not count towards the 2023 compensatory draft pick formula. That could possibly lead to free agency picking up. Few teams have been patiently waiting for that.

Both players are at the point in their careers where they would seem likely to prioritize a winning situation.

Mathieu was reportedly receiving interest from at least eight teams at the start of this month: 

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

Numerous teams would love to sign Tyrann Mathieu, though execs I’ve spoken w/this week don’t feel he’s in a rush. The 4x All-Pro is a GREAT player w/interest from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cowboys?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cowboys</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Colts</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Saints?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Saints</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Eagles?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Eagles</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ravens?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ravens</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Steelers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Steelers</a> + <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cowboys?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cowboys</a> (will Jerry Jones spend?) - among others.

From that group, the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints would seem to be out of the mix after the draft.

The Saints didn't address safety during the draft, but they signed Marcus Maye to a three-year contract in free agency. They also signed Mathieu's teammate with the Kansas City Chiefs, Daniel Sorensen, to play in the secondary.

The Ravens signed former Saints safety Marcus Williams in free agency and selected Notre Dame star Kyle Hamilton with the No. 14 pick in the 2022 draft.

After hitting a home run in the draft, the Philadelphia Eagles can afford to make an aggressive move if they want to bring in Mathieu. Their draft haul includes the trade for star wide receiver A.J. Brown and the selections of Georgia stars Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.

Everything Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has done this weekend should make the team much better positioned to challenge the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC West. The Eagles' starting safeties currently project to be Anthony Harris and K'Von Wallace.

ESPN's Tim McManus reported April 13 that there has been "mutual interest" between Mathieu and the Eagles, with the team hosting him on a virtual visit earlier this month.

Los Angeles Rams star Jalen Ramsey was pleased with the team's moves during Day 3 of the draft, but he did throw out a tease involving Mathieu on Twitter:

Jalen Ramsey @jalenramsey

We makin some secondary moves today, I love it <a href="https://twitter.com/RamsNFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RamsNFL</a> … Rams fans welcome the Rook &amp; welcome back Troy!… &amp; shid while we at it, blow up <a href="https://twitter.com/Mathieu_Era?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Mathieu_Era</a> mentions 👀

The Rams added four players to their secondary on the final day of the draft. They selected South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant, UCLA safety Quentin Lake, Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick and Kansas State safety Russ Yeast.

None of those additions should prevent the Rams from signing Mathieu if that's something they want to do and not just Twitter trolling from Ramsey.

Pro Football Focus noted that Clowney is best-served going to a situation where there is already a No. 1 edge-rusher in place. It's probably not a coincidence that two of his three most productive seasons as a pass-rusher came in 2018 and 2021, when he played on the same defensive lines with J.J. Watt and Myles Garrett.

Per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Garrett posted photos on his Instagram story last week of himself and Clowney:

"He posted two photos of Clowney on his Instagram story, one a side-by-side photo of them holding up their jerseys on their respective draft days, with the caption 'Only 2 Defensive Players have gone 1st overall in the last 15 drafts' and one a photo of them slapping hands in their Browns jerseys during the Bears game in which they sacked Justin Fields nine times and Garrett set the Browns' single-game sack record of 4.5. The caption read 'Job not finished.'"

The Browns are in a precarious state for the 2022 season right now. The league is still investigating the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Deshaun Watson, who currently has 22 civil lawsuits filed against him.

Watson could be suspended under the NFL's personal conduct policy. His availability will have a significant impact on what the Browns are able to do on the field.

Clowney knows Watson well from their two seasons as teammates with the Houston Texans. It's unclear if that would be a selling point if the Browns want to bring him back.

Cleveland did add help at defensive end in the draft, taking UAB's Alex Wright in the third round and Oklahoma's Isaiah Thomas in the seventh round. Neither addition precludes the Browns from bringing Clowney back, but Wright could earn a starting spot if he decides to sign elsewhere.

There has been very little about Clowney generating interest from other teams outside of Cleveland so far this offseason. It would be an upset at this point if he didn't return to the Browns in 2022.

Clowney racked up 19 quarterback hits, 11 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 14 starts with Cleveland last season.