Texans mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday, but as their unsigned franchise player, Jadeveon Clowney is not expected to attend.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 10, 2019
Clowney was the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. A generation player in college, he initially disappointed as a pro, missing most of his rookie season and not standing out as a sophomore.
Things began to change in Clowney’s third season though. He recorded six sacks and 52 combined tackles, which was enough for him to make his first Pro Bowl. In his fourth and fifth seasons, the outside linebacker recorded a total of 18.5 sacks and 116 combined tackles. He made the Pro Bowl both seasons.
However, that group may be falling apart now because of financial issues. Clowney’s fifth-year option was exercised by Houston last year, meaning he was supposed to be a free agent this offseason.
He never hit free agency though because the Texans put the franchise tag on him. Under the tag, Clowney would make $15,967,200 in 2019. If he signed the tag, he would be the 17th highest paid defender (based on average money per year) this coming season.
That being said, Clowney wants more money and a long-term deal. We’ve seen a string of players in recent history who have had bad experiences with the tag and have resisted signing it.
Usually, the team trying to get the star to sign the tag ends up losing the battle. Just think of Kirk Cousins leaving Washington or Le’Veon Bell sitting out in Pittsburgh. The problem is how much money Clowney will demand in a long-term deal though.
Pass rushers Dee Ford, Demarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, and Trey Flowers all signed new deals this offseason. Those four players are now among the top seven highest paid defenders in the entire league. Ford, who is the lowest paid member of the group, will make $17,100,000 per year on his new deal. That means Clowney’s deal is more than one million dollars lighter than Ford’s. Also, those same four defenders are all playing on new five-year deals.
With plenty of players getting large, new deals this offseason, Clowney wants to join the party. There are some problems though. Clowney is a good pass rusher and an athletic run defender, but he’s not worth the kind of money he wants.
Clowney has never been a First Team All-Pro. He has never recorded ten sacks in a season. He has never even been the best defender on his own team, that honor belongs to Watt. With Watt only making $16,667,571 per year on his current deal, does the shifting market justify giving Clowney a raise? It’s very hard to see him getting the large deal he wants at this point.
If the Texans are unable to sign Clowney to a new deal or get him to sign the tag, the three-time Pro Bowler could sit out the season or demand a trade. Clark and Ford both reached their current homes because of trades, and we saw Bell get his lucrative deal after sitting out last season. Clowney will negotiate and try to get the deal he wants this year, but the Texans may not be willing to commit to him.
Either way, things are about to get dramatic in Houston.