Not many football players are openly clamoring to join the Houston Texans, a team whose 3-13-1 record in 2022 earned them the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, according to Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, there’s no place like home. Clowney, who Houston took with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, told Fox 26 in Houston that “it would be nice” to return to the place where he played his first five NFL seasons from 2014-18. Clowney earned all three of his Pro Bowl nods in his final three years with the Texans from 2016-18.
“All my family is here,” Clowney said Friday. “Friends here. The guys I work out with can help me take care of my body a lot better being right up under them. … You never know. You never know what will happen. You never know what’s in front of you.”
The 30-year-old defensive lineman totaled 29 of his 43 career sacks in Houston, but hasn’t been able to make the same impact with other organizations around the league, totaling a combined 14 sacks with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 (3.0), the Tennessee Titans in 2020 (no sacks), and the Cleveland Browns from 2021-22 (11.0). Clowney’s time in Cleveland playing across from All-Pro defensive lineman Myles Garrett ended tumultuously when he critiqued the Browns coaching staff regarding his playing time ahead of their regular-season finale.
Besides the comforts of familiarity, Clowney sees the Texans as a team with a bright future. Their big moves this offseason include selecting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud second overall and Alabama defensive end Will Anderson Jr. third overall in the 2023 NFL Draft on top of hiring former Texans linebacker and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach.
“I see they putting the pieces together,” Clowney said. “I’m a big fan of their new head coach [DeMeco Ryans]. They’ve got some guys up front I think can go, Maliek [Collins] and they just got the rookie [Will Anderson] this year. It’ll be a big thing to see what they do this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do. Especially since I’m [based] here. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”
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In terms of what could happen with him on the field, the former first overall pick maintains he possesses a lot of productive years left in him despite his up-and-down past four seasons.
“A lot,” Clowney said when addressing how much juice he has left for his football career. “I’ll show you. We’ll see. There’s a lot of guys I know that can’t outdo me right now. I won’t talk about it, I don’t like to toot my own horn, I just like to show up and show out.”
Many veterans who remain on the free agent market after the draft typically avoid signing with teams until it gets closer to training camp to avoid some of the mandated offseason activities prior to July and August. Clowney is in no hurry to figure out where he’ll be playing in 2023.
“I’m looking to bounce back this year,” he said. “I’m not really worried about no timetable or where I end up or how it goes. I just want to continue to play the game I love.”