The Houston Texans have a decision to make in regards to Jadeveon Clowney. Here’s why they should use him as an asset to build out the rest of the roster.
Tuesday marked the opening of the franchise period where teams can apply the franchise tag to a designated player on their roster. The Houston Texans have to decide whether or not they’re going to use their franchise tag.
They have a couple of options but the only real option for the Texans franchise tag is Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans selected Clowney with the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. He was widely viewed as the consensus top prospect and truly a generational talent.
Unfortunately, he was unable to come in and make the immediate impact one would expect from a first overall pick as he dealt with several injuries over his first season in the NFL that limited him to just four games. He experienced a couple more injuries in his second season but was able to play more and contribute more after that.
The following three seasons, Clowney collected only 24.5 sacks but saw himself elected to three straight Pro Bowls. He became a constant force for the opposition to deal with in both the run game and pass game.
The Houston Texans stud defender isn’t a premier pass rusher by the numbers but he has had a very good impact in that area. However, where he shines is in the less glamorous aspect of defense: the run game. He is one of the best run defenders in all of football with his power and quickness to getting in the backfield.
With that being said, the Houston Texans would be foolish to let Clowney hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. They, without a doubt, should slap the franchise tag on Clowney. Probably the only reason they haven’t done is they may still be negotiating with him on an extension but I doubt they reach one.
Clowney is going to want a very rich contract, probably somewhere in the 6 year, $100 million range. However, since he hasn’t been able to put up those dominant, top-tier pass rushing numbers, he should probably receive a deal in the Danielle Hunter ranger, 4-5 years, $70-$80 million.
That’ll be enough of a disagreement to send this contract negotiation down the drain and the Houston Texans will need to place the franchise tag on him. Which, could end up being a good option for both sides as the Texans will get him at a decent price and Clowney will have another shot to prove his worth.
However, it’s what the Texans should do after they franchise tag that is the topic right now. The team should shop Clowney around the league on the franchise tag or work out some sort of sign-and-trade to move Clowney.
At first blush, this seems like a dumb move, right? Clowney is a top defender that is just now entering into his age 26 season. There are no red flags and his production has increased every year so, why get rid of him?
Well, my friend, there are several reasons. The first is that Clowney is going to cost a lot no matter if he gets what he wants or the Texans get what they want or something in between. The Texans already have several big-money deals on their roster with J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins. They’re also paying other defenders like Benardrick McKinney and, hopefully, Tyrann Mathieu. On top of that, they need to be planning ahead for a massive deal for Deshaun Watson.
Besides all of the money implications a Clowney deal, there are other very positive things that could happen from dealing Clowney away. The Houston Texans have a very talented roster. I mean they ripped off 10 wins in a row and made the playoffs. Even so, they still have a lot of holes to fill on the roster.
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The two biggest areas the team needs to address this offseason is the secondary, mostly corner, and the offensive line. Offensive line is the biggest need because Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times and if he is going to be the Texans’ franchise quarterback (he will be) then they need to protect him.
The Texans could definitely get a first round pick for Clowney in a trade. There are probably, realistically, seven or eight options in the back half of the first round with teams that could use a pass rusher. The team would need a first round pick in order to move Clowney and then tack on a second or third round pick should be the final push over the edge for this deal.
If the Houston Texans should get an offer like that for Clowney, they should say yes in a heartbeat. Instead of paying $15+ million on one player, they could acquire a multitude of players that could better fill out the roster to position this team to win now and in the future.
As hard as it is to say, the Texans don’t need Clowney on defense. He can be a difference maker, yes, but, the team could add multiple difference makers at a fraction of the total cost and better position Watson and the rest of the team to succeed.
I don’t believe there is really a wrong answer and I would not complain if the Texans opted to lock up Clowney. What would you do with Jadeveon Clowney if you were the Houston Texans? Drop a comment and let us know!