The 2019 NFL offseason unofficially begins today, because today teams can franchise tag players. If you don’t know what that means, the franchise tag keeps a player on a roster via a one-year contract at a high salary. If you want more information, you can get it here. Team’s have until March 5th to use their tag if they choose to do so.
Choosing to use the franchise tag is an integral decision for the Houston Texans this offseason. Star defensive end, and a player I liked to call the best run stopping defensive end in the game, Jadeveon Clowney, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after playing out the entirety of his rookie contract. Houston can try to re-sign him to a mega contract—the type that pays him out $20 million a year over five years—or they can ensure he stays in Houston for the 2019 season by tagging him and then re-signing him later in the offseason or sticking with him on a one-year deal and revisiting the decision next offseason.
Each choice has its advantages. If the Texans give Clowney big money and a multi-year contract now, they can do it with a front-loaded deal while they have the cap space and Deshaun Watson on a rookie contract. If the Texans tag Clowney, it gives them insurance that he can’t run away and play for the Indianapolis Colts (at least in 2019). If the Texans use the franchise tag on Clowney and keep him on a one-year contract, it ensures Houston won’t get burned by a player with the injury history Clowney has, even if it is one that hasn’t been an issue the last three seasons. Additionally, a $17 million dollar cap hit, the estimated cost for defensive ends that get tagged, isn’t a big deal for a team with over $70 million in cap space.
I think I know what I would do. What would you do, loyal reader? Do you think the Texans will use their franchise tag to keep Clowney around for at least one more year?