Colts Rumors: Are Indy and Jadeveon Clowney really a ‘perfect match’?

The Indianapolis Colts figure to be in the market for an edge rusher this offseason, and the latest buzz suggests they’d like to re-sign veteran Justin Houston before the start of free agency.

As much as retaining Houston would please fans given his elite production level over the last two seasons, however, nothing is ever guaranteed.

So it would behoove GM Chris Ballard to have a couple of alternative options in mind if negotiations go awry.

Even if the Colts do re-sign Houston, there’s no rules stating that they couldn’t add another defensive end.

After all, they currently have a vacancy on both sides with Denico Autry, who generated 7.5 sacks, 10 QB hits and 22 pressures last season, also set to enter free agency.

Taking that into account, it’s not a huge surprise that ESPN tabbed Indianapolis as the “perfect free agent match” for Jadeveon Clowney, which begs the question of whether there’s actually some validity behind that analysis.

Should the Colts pursue Jadeveon Clowney in free agency?

Here’s what ESPN had to say in terms of explaining why the Colts’ defensive scheme could help bring the best out of Clowney, who’s really struggled to produce at the level everybody’s come to expect from him over the last two seasons.

“Clowney fits perfectly in the Colts’ two-high structure on defense because he can be a one-man wrecking crew against the run, and allow the Colts to continue to live with a down safety in the box,” wrote Pro Football Focus analyst Seth Galina.

“Clowney’s grade has continued to drop in recent years, but he’s still not even 30 years old yet. He’s only two seasons removed from earning a career-high PFF grade of 87.2, so a bounce-back year is not entirely out of the question.”

It’s worth noting that the Colts showed interest in Clowney last offseason, but ultimately pulled themselves out of the running after news broke that he was looking to reset the market for edge rushers following an underwhelming campaign.

Name value can only take you so far, and last offseason further proved that free agency embraces the “what have you done for me lately” mantra. Speaking of which, the former No. 1 overall pick has appeared in 21 of a possible 32 games across the last two seasons, registering a lackluster 50 tackles, three sacks (!),19 QB hits, seven passes defended and five forced fumbles.

Ask yourselves this, Colts fans: do those numbers really justify giving Clowney top-of-the-market money, which he will almost certainly be demanding? Not in this lifetime.

We would entertain the idea of pursuing the three-time Pro Bowler if he was willing to take a discount, because chances are he would wreak serious havoc working alongside the likes of DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and Grover Stewart on Indianapolis’ loaded front seven.

Based on the Colts’ need for a defensive end and Clowney’s seemingly ideal fit in their defensive scheme, it’s easy to see why ESPN thinks they’d make a great couple.

However, his steep contract demands coupled with Indy’s limited spending budget makes them anything but compatible in our eyes. There would just be no sense in doling out big money to a player who has major injury concerns and isn’t nearly as productive as some people think.