Veteran edge rusher Clowney leaves Ravens to join Carolina on two-year deal

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The Ravens have lost another key member of their 2023 defense with veteran edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney agreeing to a two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday.

The deal is worth $20 million with a maximum value of $24 million with incentives, according to ESPN and NFL Network. That’s a significant raise from the one-year, $2.5 million deal the 31-year-old signed with Baltimore last August, but Clowney also earned more than $2 million in incentives after matching a career high with 9 1/2 sacks and leading the defense with a career-best 78 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. The first overall pick of the 2014 draft out of South Carolina also played in every game for just the second time in his career and first since the 2017 season. Clowney becomes the fourth notable member of the NFL’s top scoring defense — that also finished first in sacks and takeaways in 2023 — to depart via free agency, joining Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Queen, safety Geno Stone, and cornerback Ronald Darby.

According to CBS Sports, location was a factor in Clowney’s decision as he grew up less than an hour from Charlotte, North Carolina and was intrigued by the opportunity to play so close to his family. This is the earliest in an offseason that Clowney has signed a contract as a free agent in his career. The Panthers finished a league-worst 2-15 last season.

Speaking at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando earlier this week, head coach John Harbaugh had remained hopeful that the Ravens would be able to re-sign Clowney or the 33-year-old Kyle Van Noy, who remains a free agent after collecting a career-high nine sacks in 14 games last season.

“There’s optimism with both. I’ve been texting with both ‘JD’ and Kyle here and there over the last couple weeks,” Harbaugh said. “Yes, I’m hopeful we get one or both of them back.”

Clowney’s arrival proved to be a godsend for the Ravens last year with 2023 second-round pick David Ojabo suffering a season-ending knee injury in September and 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh missing four games with an ankle injury sustained in Week 2. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Clowney finished second on the team in sacks behind only Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (13), who signed a four-year, $98 million contract extension earlier this month.


With Clowney officially gone and Van Noy’s status still to be determined, the Ravens will likely need to depend more heavily on youth to lead the way in 2024. Oweh collected five sacks and was credited with a career-high 54 pressures by PFF last season, but Ojabo is a major question mark as the talented but raw University of Michigan product has appeared in just six games over his first two NFL seasons because of injuries.

“I think David is going to just break out. I think he and Odafe are going to be partners in crime,” Harbaugh said. “I think those guys are going to play great together. They are ready to roll, man. Every time I talk to them, every time I see them, they are brimming with enthusiasm. They are working hard, and [Ojabo] is healthy. They are both healthy. I can’t wait to get to work with those guys.”

Earlier this month, the Ravens also released former starter Tyus Bowser, who sat out the entire 2023 season with a knee injury. The only other outside linebackers on Baltimore’s current roster are veteran Malik Harrison, 2023 fourth-round pick Tavius Robinson, and 2023 undrafted free agent Malik Hamm.

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