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BRB Group Think: Is Clowney Comin’ Or Going?

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BRB writers discuss Jadeveon Clowney’s contract situation on the eve of the 2018 regular season.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald just got a contract so big that he became the highest paid defensive player in the 98 year history of the National Football League. The six-year, $135 million dollar contract guarantees Donald $87 million in his bank account no matter what.

But that was Thursday.

The next day, Khalil Mack got paid so much that Donald’s reign as the highest paid defensive player in the 98 year history of the National Football League ended. After everyone’s jaws came back up from the floor when we heard the Oakland Raiders traded Mack to Chicago, Da Bears turned around and gave Mack $141 million, with $90 million of that guaranteed.

Now, all eyes are turning to the next pass rushing freak of nature due to get paid: Jadeveon Clowney.

Since we’re just like all the other NFL fans out there who love to talk Xs and Os while playing armchair quarterback, coach, general manager, and defensive lineman, the news of Mack’s trade and subsequent windfall fired up the chatter at 1000 Battle Red Boulevard. Since we love to have you chime in one the conversation, we wanted to share our thoughts here and then invite you to add yours in the comments section.

Here’s the question:

With the recent Donald and Mack contracts, what do you think is going to happen with Jadeveon Clowney’s future in Houston? Will Bob McNair pay the man or watch him walk away?

Here are our answers:

(Not Philip) Rivers McCown:

He’ll be franchised after the season if he’s healthy.

Then it’ll pretty much be up to him. I don’t think the Texans will give him a ground-breaking deal. I do think they’ll pay him market rate. If he holds out in any real way, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was traded. The injuries just complicate so much of his long-term value that it’s hard to see anyone giving up a ton for him.

(Mad that Mack isn’t a Titan) Matt Weston:

I have never thought of Houston trading, or not re-signing Clowney. Regardless of cost, he’s too talented and too good to give up. Honestly there’s a better chance Watt gets cut next offseason if he gets injured again than Clowney being let go. The team doesn’t have the secondary talent to let Clowney walk. Plus they’ll have more than enough cap space next offseason without releasing anyone to sign him.

(Just wants everyone healthy) Jeremy Brener:

I think a lot depends on how well Clowney performs this season.

If he gets injured, I have a hard time seeing the Texans paying him, much like how Mario Williams got injured in his final season with the team.

It’s definitely reasonable to think that Clowney’s days in Houston are numbered. With Khalil Mack’s deal and identical draft class, Clowney and Mack will always be connected as the star pass rushers at the top of their class. But we also have to keep in mind that Mack has done more in his career than Clowney has, simply because he’s been on the field more. I still think Clowney can reach the same level as Mack, but the contract he warrants is not in the same neighborhood as Mack because Mack has played 17 more games than Clowney over their careers. Mack also has 40.5 career sacks compared to Clowney’s 20, so if Clowney asks for Mack money, the Texans should let him walk.

I think Houston and Clowney can come to a reasonable deal, but nothing over $100M. I think they can come to an agreement of something in the neighborhood of 5/60-5/75, for around $12-15M per year.

(Just pay Deshaun Watsoin now) Diehard Chris:

Clowney’s future in Houston depends on so many factors - his health (because if he’s healthy, his performance won’t be a question), J.J. Watt’s health, etc.

With Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack’s contracts now done, it makes the choice pretty simple. Is Clowney worth what those two guys make TO THE TEXANS? I don’t think he is, so I think we’re headed for at least one year of the franchise tag. If Clowney ends up missing significant time in 2018 however, I think they’’ll just let him walk. I want Clowney to be around, but I don’t break the bank for him without a healthy and effective 2018.

(Unashamed to admit he loves Clowney and it biases his opinion) Mike Bullock:

Clowney is one of my favorite Houston Texans, if not one of my favorite current NFL players. I was chomping at the bit for Houston to draft him, crushed when the turf monster ate his knee, stoked when he did a nearly superhuman recovery from knee surgery, and Brett Kollman’s “Film Room” on Clowney is my favorite in a series of totally excellent videos Brett’s created.

Knowing a team like Tennessee will happily sign him and reunite him with Mike Vrabel if we let him walk is a ‘worst nightmare’ scenario. Even if Houston could pull off a trade for the best left tackle in football with a team we don’t face twice a year, there’s no guarantee that tackle doesn’t go down with a career-ending injury before he ever plays a single snap. That’s just the nature of the modern NFL.

I get it’s a business and Clowney has had some injury issues, but even if he’s only available 50% of the time, he’s better than half the rest of the edge rushing options 100% of the time.

It would be one thing if Houston was cash-strapped and up against the cap with no room to make a move, but they can load up a contract for Clowney that keeps him wearing Battle Red for years to come. If he gets disabled due to injury, well, that’s just the breaks and it can happen to anyone.

Sign him, Bob. Don’t let this become a topic that keeps one of the best overall athletes Houston has ever drafted from focusing solely on being the best Texan he can be...

Captain Ron (not “Obvious”):

I think Clowney will get a new contract with the Texans, possibly even before the season officially begins in a few days. He showed he was durable and effective/disruptive last season even without the full compliment of the other front-seven starters (Watt and Mercilus in particular).

The other variable that helps to support retaining him is Houston’s weakness at cornerback. While they seem to have finally improved the safety position, the outside secondary looks like the weakest area on the roster. If the Texans had the Jaguars cornerbacks—or at the very least if Rick Smith hadn’t let Bouye go there in free agency—one could make an argument that paying a premium for Clowney would be less necessary, as the secondary could keep things locked down while a pass-rushing crew sans Clowney could be effective enough. Instead, Houston will need to open the checkbook to ensure the defensive line and linebackers wreck shop early and often. Clowney will be the centerpiece of that unit for years to come.

There you have it. We gave you ours. Now let’s hear yours.