Houston Texans DE/OLB Jadveon Clowney is playing in a contract year after a career of injuries. However, they have no choice now but to give him a massive extension, here’s why.
Jadeveon Clowney has had quite the career path. He was the number one recruit out of high school when he committed to South Carolina where he immediately began to tear it up. The Houston Texans then selected him with the first overall pick in the 2014 draft.
However, his first season as a pro did go as planned and was extremely disappointing. He played in just four games, starting two, he collected seven tackles and three hurries. Many people were ready to declare him a bust after that one season.
In his sophomore campaign, he was healthy for a lot more of the season, playing in thirteen games and starting in nine. Unfortunately, he still wasn’t as productive as many would’ve liked, 4.5 sacks, 22 hurries, and 40 tackles. So, he improved just not as a first overall pick should, thus the bust label continued on.
Over the next two years, Clowney was largely healthy missing two games in 2016 and none in 2017 for a Houston Texans defense that desperately needed someone to be healthy. He did everything he could to shake off the bust label and by the end of 2017, it was completely gone. He had amassed 15.5 sacks, over 100 tackles, over 100 pressures, and four turnovers, one for a touchdown.
Clowney was finally becoming the guy the team was hoping for when they drafted him first overall in 2014. The question then became, this past offseason, should the Texans resign Clowney to a huge extension now or wait to see if the injury bug befalls him again?
Obviously, the team opted to let him play out his fifth-year option and then become a free agent in the 2019 offseason. No one can really blame the Texans for taking the cautious approach to these negotiations but after his play thus far, Clowney is set for a massive payday following the season and the Texans need to be the one to give it to him.
So far this year, Clowney has sacked the opposing quarterback 4.5 times, hurried the quarterback 14 times, and hit the quarterback an additional 6 times. He’s also recorded 20 sacks and recovered two fumbles, including one for a touchdown.
More than that, Clowney has become one of the game’s best run defenders off of the edge. He’s graded out as high quality as a run defender every year in his career but this year, he’s taken it to a completely new level. So far, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he’s graded out as a 90.0 run defender which is good for first in the league for edge defenders.
The Houston Texans have also continued to use him as a chess piece this season. He’s lined up all over the defensive line this year from a wide nine technique. in the e-gap to stacked up right over the center in a zero technique. He’s also stood up, been in a three-point stance, and a four-point stance. Long story short, the Texans defense is at it’s best when Clowney, and JJ Watt for that matter, get to line up all over.
Clowney doesn’t have the insane pass rushing numbers but he is an extremely gifted and talented pass rusher and run defender which is a rarity in today’s game. He’ll likely never light up the stat sheet but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get a huge contract.
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Comparably, by position, Clowney has a couple of measures for his future contract. Von Miller is a high point that would be astounding to see Clowney get but his deal was a five-year contract worth $114 million. Other guys that got similar deals are Melvin Ingram, Robert Quinn, and Chandler Jones who all got deals between $60 and $83 million. Obviously, there is also what the number two pick in the 2014 draft, Khalil Mack, just got, six years, $141 million.
Clowney won’t and shouldn’t get what Mack just got. However, he should still crack a nine-digit contract for his first big payday. Based off of his injury history and lack of stat filling he won’t break any records. However, a six-year deal worth between $100 and $110 million is realistic and well deserved.
The Houston Texans need Clowney to have this incredible defense we have been privy to enjoy this year. He’s worth the money and the Texans have the cap room for it.
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