Lost in all the press over whether Houston only wanted Nick Caserio as their new general manager, or if they tampered with the Patriots or, how much stroke Bill O’Brien has with the organization now, is the fact that one of their all-time best players is still waiting out a contract situation that seems to have made zero progress in months.
I’ve said it before, and again, and others have too.
In most NFL scenarios, having a guy the caliber of Jadeveon Clowney sitting out due to the franchise tag standoff would illicit all the “Is this a distraction?” questions and articles.
Not in Houston, where it seems the team has consulted the Ringling Brothers and brought in P.T. Barnum to see what a true circus they can make of the whole general manager search.
The real question in all this is:
If Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby now share general manager power in Houston, why is Clowney still unsigned?
Maybe they think this clown college of an offseason hasn’t had a valedictorian moment yet, so the Texans are waiting for the Tennessee Titans to make a trade offer so they can get Taylor Lewan in place of Clowney? Maybe they somehow don’t believe Clowney is worth paying?
According to Spotrac.com, Clowney made $13.3 mil in 2018 and is set to make just shy of $16 million in 2019. Surely with the amount of cap space, young players, AND lack of any big free agent signings this year, Houston can put Clowney on the books for somewhere in the $18 million range and call it a day. Maybe they need to hedge their bets and put some injury clauses in there, but in the current market, you can’t argue with Clowney’s value.
When guys like Chandler Jones, Olivier Vernon, Dee Ford and Trey Flowers are all making more than Clowney, not giving him a big deal is a tough stance to defend in the contemporary world of NFL compensation.
Maybe, as rumors have it, the Texans are trying to position their dollars and cents in order to lock Deshaun Watson down long-term in the next season or two. Or maybe they truly feel Clowney is worth more in a trade, although apparently there aren’t any other teams that agree since he’s still wearing Battle Red. Whatever the thinking, by not clearing this issue off the table, they’re hurting the team’s chances of success.
Clowney has come a long way in terms of his personal development, setting out on a growth curve that drives into his seemingly unprecedented potential that hasn’t come anywhere near the peak yet. Having Clowney hold out of OTAs, mini-camps and possibly training camp—while he’s obviously not at NRG working out with J.J. Watt, Benardrick McKinney and the rest of his defensive teammates—means one thing: Clowney is not improving at the rate Houston needs him to right now. When the 2019 season starts, he won’t be “the best teammate he can be” because he missed out on crucial opportunities to grow during this off-season.
Clowney was, and always has been, a generational talent. On many teams without a J.J. Watt, he might already be the best edge rusher in the last 20 years, if not the history of the team. And he’s still got throttle to go before hitting his top speed.
If O’Brien and Easterby are driving this thing, they need to pull over at Clowney’s house, offload the wheelbarrow of cash, and get Clowney back on the property. Stop focusing on how Bill Belichick pantsed them both, stop fixating on what could have been with Caserio or the possibility that he will still be Houston’s next general manager, and get back to business.
With Clowney, the Houston front seven is downright scary. Without him, they’re one injury to J.J. Watt away from wet paper bag status.
What do you think? Is Clowney worth the investment? If so, how much?
What to do with Jadeveon Clowney?
This poll is closed
Make him the highest paid defender in the league.
Pay him what it takes to get him back in the locker room.
No thanks - trade him!
Ride out the year with Clowney playing on the franchise tag.
Toe the hard line already in place and see who blinks first.