The Tennessee Titans signed Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday, but he was reportedly almost a New Orleans Saint. Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport wrote an article for ESPN that detailed how the final hours of Clowney's free agency played out.
The Saints were supposedly working on a last-second deal for the edge rusher. The writers noted the organization came up with a creative idea that would allow them to add the defensive star, even though they didn't have the room under the NFL's salary cap to give him the money he wanted.
The agreement with another squad, who hasn't been named, would have apparently been the first of its kind in league history. This is likely one of the reasons commissioner Roger Goodell's office decided it wasn't worth giving the green light.
Pelissero and Rapoport said that sources told them the Saints didn't think they could match the Titans' offer to Clowney. That contract ended up being $12 million in base salary and another $3 million in incentives.
The reporters weren't able to confirm who the second franchise was, but they believe it was likely the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have more than enough space under the cap for an increased offer to Clowney.
The two sides discussed parameters of an agreement in which Team X would've signed Clowney to a one-year, $15 million contract and paid him a $5 million signing bonus. Then, they would have immediately traded Clowney to the Saints, who would've sent a second-round draft pick back in return, as well as someone else to make more money off their books.
The trade would have allowed New Orleans to pay the rest of the money that would have been owed to Clowney.
Things were in motion enough that the two sides submitted their deal to the league office, but it reportedly hit a snag.
Sources told the reporters that there were other trades like the one in the works on Saturday night, but not identical. It appears the issue was that there had never been a deal like this where a player was only signed in order to be dealt.
When New Orleans found out they were going to be able to make it work with the Browns, or whoever they were in talks with, they did try and still make something work for Clowney alone. In the end, they were not able to convince him to turn down the Titans' offer.