In his nine career seasons since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 draft out of South Carolina, Jadeveon Clowney has racked up 43 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, and 109 quarterback hits across four different teams.
The only number on the Baltimore Ravens’ newest edge defender’s mind entering his 10th season is 17, which is the amount of regular season games every team plays.
“My goal is to play 17 games this year,” Clowney said Thursday. “That’s the only goal I’m shooting for. I’m going to put my pads on and show up and play every game, week in and week out.”
Before becoming a three-time Pro Bowler, Clowney had to battle his way back from undergoing microfracture knee surgery in his rookie season.
“I got hurt my first game of my career. I had one of the worst injuries you could have,” Clowney said. “I battled back nine years straight, and it’s been a ride. I’m telling you all – nobody knows how much pain I’ve been in or what I’ve been through, but I do, and my family. I’m just trying to win on the backend right now and keep playing at a high level. I have a lot left in me. I just want to keep showing that.”
The 30-year-old has played a full season just once in his career to-date, which came back in 2017. He was still with the Houston Texans and recorded his second-straight Pro Bowl season, recording a career-high 9.5 sacks.
Last season, his second straight with the Cleveland Browns, Clowney appeared in just 12 games and registered two sacks after posting nine in 2021. He said he feels “great” right now from a health and conditioning standpoint, and is confident that he is “going to play very well” in 2023.
Clowney has been a longtime admirer of the Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh, and he was sold on the organization’s play-first culture upon his free agent visit.
“I’ve been a fan of John Harbaugh since I’ve been in this league,” Clowney said. “I just felt like watching him on TV, he was all about his players – asking them, ‘What do you all want to do, what do you all want to do?’ So, I want to be a part of it.”
“They were just so about the players here when I came,” Clowney said. “They were caring about the players and how they felt and asking them. I felt like that’s what I need to be a part of. When I walked in, I felt like I was already a part of the team. Everybody showed me love and said what’s up – even the players. I was like, ‘I need to be here and come play here.’”
Clowney has only made it to the playoffs three times in his career, with the last instance coming in the 2019 season when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. He believes the Ravens have a winning team that is not just capable of going to the playoffs, but also has a chance to contend for a championship.
“It felt like if I come help and do my part, hopefully we can win it,” Clowney said. “That’s what I was thinking when I came to visit.”
As far as what his role on the team and in Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme will look like, both Harbaugh and Clowney talked about their collective excitement for the potential impact he can have on the Ravens’ defense.
“I can do a lot of things, especially when I’m healthy,” Clowney said. “I can do a lot of things. I’m healthy right now, so I want to stay in this situation and just let them know I’m available to do just about anything upfront. But, I think they know that. They put me in a lot of situations already, [even though] I just got here. I think they know that, so they just want me ready and in shape for the season.”
Clowney fits the mold of several versatile pass rushers that have enjoyed success with the Ravens over the past decade, all who could be deployed in a multitude of ways. He can line up on the edge as well as move inside over offensive guards and rush from the five-technique spot in obvious passing situations.
“It felt like a perfect fit football-wise before we even got a chance to talk. Then when we talked to him, and he kind of expressed what he’s looking for and what he wants to accomplish, and we kind of explained what we were looking for and what the need was, it just was over, as far as I was concerned. He took a couple of days; they figured it out, and he’s here.”
After having to face the Ravens twice in each of the past two years, Clowney is happy to no longer have to defend against his new quarterback Lamar Jackson this upcoming season.
“I’m just glad I don’t have to chase the guy anymore right now,” Clowney said. “I got a year off from chasing the quickest, fastest quarterback in the league, which is great.”
For those wondering why Clowney chose No. 24 as his jersey number and if he intends on keeping it, he provided an answer that fans who were displeased with the choice will like to hear.
“It was either [No. 24] or 50 right now, and I didn’t pick 50 because Justin Houston wore it last year here,” Clowney said. “I just picked 24 just to switch it up – I don’t know. I just was like, ‘Yes, let me try 24 on.’ We’ll see what happens when training camp [is] over or when they make cuts. I might switch my number again.”