Number 1: Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney’s contract situation is one of the most obvious ones to point out. The former #1 overall pick wants an extension to the level of Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack but the Texans haven’t offered him close to what he would accept.
A Pro Football Talk report insinuates he is not expected to be with the team until just before the regular season. Included in the article, it states that there is no bad blood between Clowney and the staff as he has remained in contact with them. There is an old saying that states “nothing personal, it’s just business” and his contract situation echoes into that.
Although Clowney isn’t a “sack master” like Donald and Mack, his presence is felt in the run game as he is considered an elite rush-stopper.
It will be interesting to see if the Texans strike a deal with him soon or they trade him off to another team to save money.
Clowney is franchise-tagged with an approximate worth of $15.9 million for 2019.
Number 2: Protecting Deshaun Watson
As Deshaun Watson goes, so does the team. Despite having a good record and a playoff appearance, the lack of talent on the offensive line was concerning. Last season, Watson was sacked 62 times, which is tied for 5th-most ever in NFL history.
To be fair, some of those sacks are on him whether he held on the ball for too long or tried to be elusive and get out of the pocket; but nonetheless, still concerning. From the gate, the situation started to go downhill as offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson sustained a season-ending injury to his ankle just minutes into the start of their Week 1 matchup against the New England Patriots.
The Texans goal this year was to beef up their offensive line and protect the most important human being in NRG Stadium by the name of Deshaun Watson. Throughout the offseason, the Texans added three new faces to the offensive line in Matt Kalil, Tytus Howard, and Max Scharping.
Matt Kalil is the most experienced player on out of the bunch as he comes from the Carolina Panthers and spent majority of his career protecting Cam Newton. However, Kalil missed 14 games in 2016 and all of last season with knee and hip injuries. There’s no telling how much he has left in the tank.
Since Kalil is the veteran, the Texans could be using him as a “mentor” for Tytus Howard, whom the franchise took in the 1st round this NFL Draft. The organization hopes that he becomes a staple like Duane Brown was to the franchise for many seasons on end.
The huge question mark on the offensive line, in my opinion, is Nick Martin. This season is make-or-break for the center — his 4th by the way — as his contract with the Texans ends at the conclusion of the season.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Texans traded up to select Martin at 50th overall in the second round. Rick Smith, who was the GM at the time, was hoping he would live up to the last name as his older brother Zach Martin plays a couple of hours north up Interstate 45 for the Dallas Cowboys where he has been an all-pro level offensive lineman for years.
So far as a Texan, Martin hasn’t lived up to expectations that the Texans had for him when they drafted him. Martin hasn’t been handed a new contract as of yet, which is surprising considering the Texans have historically extended the players they take highly in the draft but we will see later on in the season if something like this comes to pass.
The Score has the Texans coming into the season with the 32nd-ranked offensive line in the NFL once again. For the sake of Watson, there is nowhere else to go but up.