Jadeveon Clowney

Texans Likely To Tag Jadeveon Clowney

The Texans aren’t letting Jadeveon Clowney get away. The team plans to apply the franchise tag to him for 2019, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes.

However, the move may come with some controversy. Clowney will argue that he should be tagged as a defensive end, which would put him in line for more than $17MM in salary. Meanwhile, the Texans will contend that he is a linebacker, which would give him about $15MM.

The difference is relatively small, but it could be a major point of contention for Clowney and an opportunity for the Texans to gain a bit of cap relief. Beyond the tag, the two sides will find themselves in an interesting long-term contract negotiation.

When on the field, Clowney is among the league’s most feared edge rushers. Since the start of the 2015 season, Clowney has recorded 25.5 sacks and 55 tackles for a loss. And, this year, he has been one of the NFL’s best at generating quarterback pressure, but his injury history may be something of a concern: The 25-year-old (26 in February) missed 3/4ths of his rookie season and a few games in ’15 and ’16. Then again, he has back-to-back Pro Bowl nods and appeared in all 16 regular season games last year.

On Sunday, Clowney recorded yet another sack as the Texans edged the Redskins, 23-21. Next, the Texans will take their seven-game winning streak to the Titans on Monday night.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Failed Trades: Beasley, Fowler, Jets, Jags

After the trade deadline passes each year, there are inevitably reports about the trades that were discussed but never consummated. For instance, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that teams were trying to trade for Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley (video link). Beasley has just one sack this year, and he has regressed considerably since his First Team All-Pro performance in 2016, but Atlanta believes it can make the playoffs this season, and it was not prepared to move a foundational piece like Beasley, who is under contract through 2019 via the fifth-year option.

Now for more reports concerning trades that never happened, which nonetheless shed some light on the teams that declined to make the deals, the clubs that tried to make the deals, and the players themselves:

  • The Jets, desperate for pass rushing help, inquired on former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler over the summer, and they tried again at last week’s trade deadline, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details. The Rams ultimately acquired Fowler in exchange for a 2019 third-rounder and 2020 fifth-rounder, and while the Jets submitted a similar offer about a half hour before the 4pm deadline on October 30, they also wanted a fourth-rounder to come back to them. As such, Jacksonville pulled the trigger on the Rams’ offer.
  • Interestingly, before dealing him to the Saints in August, the Jets offered quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Jaguars in a one-for-one swap for Fowler, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Jacksonville rebuffed that proposal, even though it knew that Fowler was probably on the way out, and given their QB struggles, that decision may have made a major difference in the Jags’ season.
  • Fowler may not have been the Rams‘ first choice for pass rushing help. We already knew that Los Angeles had made a significant offer for Khalil Mack before he was dealt to the Bears, but Schefter writes that the Rams also called the Texans to discuss Jadeveon Clowney in the first weeks of the season, and as late as last week, they made a push to acquire the BillsJerry Hughes.
  • Several teams, including the Eagles, called the Jets in an effort to acquire deep threat Robby Anderson, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (Twitter link). However, Gang Green opted to hold on to Anderson because the development of Sam Darnold remains the team’s top priority, and it did not want to remove one of Darnold’s biggest weapons.

Jadeveon Clowney To Play Out Final Year

Texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney is expected to play out the final year of his deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. There’s still time for an extension to come together, but barring a significant change in talks, Clowney will be on course for free agency next year. 

Clowney is set to earn $12.306MM in 2018, per the terms of his fifth-year option. Naturally, the Texans are interested in moving forward with Clowney, but they want to gauge his performance and health for one more season before making a major commitment.

Clowney is coming off of a full 16-game season, but injuries have been an issue in the past. This offseason, an arthroscopic knee surgery sidelined Clowney throughout the spring and early summer.

Clowney, 25, compiled career highs in sacks (9.5), tackles (59), and fumble recoveries (3) last year. His next deal should position him as one of the highest-paid defenders in the NFL, though he’s not expected to top the likes of Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clowney Expected To Be Ready For Camp

While Jadeveon Clowney‘s pursuit of a lucrative second Texans contract has accounted for most of the buzz surrounding him this offseason, the fifth-year pass rusher was not available for Houston’s practices due to a surgery.

Clowney did not participate in the Texans’ OTAs or their minicamp, but he pronounced himself ready to go for training camp. Clowney did so without going into specifics, but Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports the outside linebacker is not expected to have health limitations once the Texans begin camp.

An arthroscopic knee surgery sidelined Clowney this offseason. The process dragged on, however, with the surgery occurring shortly after the 2017 season concluded but sidelining Clowney throughout the spring and early summer. He saw Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, Wilson reports, adding the Texans will likely ease their top edge man back to work at their West Virginia-stationed camp.

Clowney also appeared to squash the prospect of a holdout, a course of action fellow 2014 first-rounders Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are taking as they pursue extensions.

I’m ready, man,” Clowney said, via Wilson. “I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to the season … I’m great, I’m good. See you guys at camp.”

This will be a pivotal season for Clowney. He’ll receive a nice pay bump — to a $12.306MM salary on a fifth-year option — but no report this year indicated he and the Texans were close on an extension. No substantive re-up talks between Clowney’s camp and the Texans occurred this offseason, leading John McClain of the Houston Chronicle to foresee the 2014 No. 1 overall pick playing this season for the option price and the parties reconvening after the campaign concludes.

The Texans may want to see Clowney stay healthy this season, or at least avoid knee problems, in order to be convinced he’s worthy of a top-market extension. The 25-year-old defender, though, has played 30 regular-season games the past two years after injuries affected him more earlier in his career. Nevertheless, Clowney shaking off this latest one figures to be critical en route to that elusive extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Candidate: Jadeveon Clowney

Despite an injury-riddled rookie season, Texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney has blossomed into one of the league’s best defensive players. Now coming off of his second-straight Pro Bowl selection and his first full season, Clowney is pushing for a lucrative new deal to put him near the top of the market at his position. 

[RELATED: Who Will End Offseason As NFL’s Highest-Paid Defender?]

Thanks to the fifth-year option, the Texans have Clowney under contract for 2018 at a salary of $12.3MM. After that, Clowney will be eligible to hit the open market, unless the Texans use the franchise tag or iron out an extension with him.

The projected franchise tag amount often provides a framework for deals, but it’s a bit more complicated than that in Clowney’s case. In 2016, Clowney saw a great deal of time at defensive end in the Texans’ 3-4 scheme. Last year, he saw more time at linebacker than defensive end. It remains to be seen how Clowney’s position will be defined for purposes of the tag. If he’s classified a linebacker, then the tag will be worth around $16.3MM in 2019. If he’s considered a defensive end, then the Texans will be looking at the prospect of at least $18MM for the one-year placeholder.

The Texans and Clowney have not made significant strides on an extension just yet, and that could have something to do with Clowney’s slower-than-expected recovery from a recent knee procedure. The pending extensions for Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald may also hold things up. We could see a three-way game of chicken here as each player would probably like to use one of the other deals as a framework for talks. Then again, Clowney is not quite as accomplished as Mack and Donald, so his agents might not be wary about being the first to the trough.

So, what sort of deal would make sense for both sides? The Texans showed a willingness to back up the Brinks truck in 2014 when they gave J.J. Watt a six-year, $100MM deal, but his injury issues are a reminder of the risks that come with big-money deals.

Clowney’s camp will certainly use Watt’s deal as a reference point, but they could use Olivier Vernon‘s five-year, $85MM free agent deal with the Giants as their real blueprint. Clowney just turned 25 in February, so a shorter deal would allow him to hit the open market near the age of 30, giving him an opportunity to cash in all over again. Copying Vernon’s deal to the letter would give Clowney $17MM/year on average with a whopping $40MM fully guaranteed at signing. An equivalent deal adjusted for cap increases, meanwhile, would give him nearly $19.5MM per season, which may be too rich for the Texans’ blood. For reference, the AAV on that deal would top Von Miller‘s six-year, $114.6MM contract, which presently stands as the league’s richest deal for a defensive player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jadeveon Clowney, Texans Not Progressing On Extension

While negotiations with Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack are overshadowing the Texans’ talks with Jadeveon Clowney, the talks in Houston could get interesting fairly soon. Because as of Monday night, the Texans and Clowney have not engaged in any substantive extension discussions this offseason, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports.

These proceedings differ from the Texans’ approaches with past offseason extension recipients Matt Schaub, Eric Winston or DeAndre Hopkins, per McClain, with dialogue ramping up prior to those deals being finalized. Clowney, though, is again dealing with an injury that could be causing the Texans to pause these seminal negotiations. Though, McClain notes Clowney assured Bill O’Brien he’d be ready by the time the Texans open camp July 26.

Although Clowney’s shaken off his rookie-year injury and been largely available since, he’s been more prone to physical ailments than Donald or Mack. With the Texans seeing J.J. Watt‘s prime being threatened by severe setbacks, the franchise may want to see Clowney provide further proof the injuries are in his past.

To be fair, Clowney has only missed two games in the past two seasons combined and five in the past three. The 25-year-old standout missed 12 as a rookie, though, with a knee injury and needed arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason. He finished with a career-high 9.5 sacks last season and spearheaded a Houston defense that saw both Watt and Whitney Mercilus go down early in the season. Clowney holding out could leave the Texans vulnerable considering Watt’s recent history and Mercilus also missing extensive time in 2017.

Clowney reported for Houston’s offseason activities but did not participate due to the offseason knee procedure. He’s said he wants to stay in Houston long-term, and new Texans GM Brian Gaine — who just authorized a five-year, $50MM re-up for Benardrick McKinneyexpressed optimism about a deal being done before the regular season.

This franchise has a history of completing major extensions in the offseason, as the deals for Watt, Hopkins and now McKinney show, and Gaine is following Rick Smith‘s policy of no in-season negotiations. But McClain does not expect a Clowney deal to come to fruition before the season begins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will End Offseason As NFL’s Highest-Paid Defender?

The league’s seen a large number of standout players skip mandatory workouts this week, setting up an eventful stretch despite teams being on break between minicamps and training camps.

The star power from the 2014 draft is driving part of this spree of holdouts, and this summer figures to produce at least one mega-contract for a defender (and likely more). By the time this offseason concludes, the defensive contract landscape will look different. Who will be the league’s new standard-bearer here?

Von Miller‘s held that title for two years, since signing his six-year, $114.6MM extension at the 2016 franchise tag deadline. Multiple stars drafted in the 2014 first round are gunning for contracts that would surpass Miller’s.

Will it be Aaron Donald? Despite playing a position that has not been traditionally compensated as well as Miller’s, Ndamukong Suh‘s 2015 free agency windfall notwithstanding, Donald has been the league’s most dominant interior defender for a bit now. With quarterbacks’ release times steadily accelerating, defenders lined up closer to the ball have seen a change in compensation patterns. Defensive tackles like Fletcher Cox and Kawann Short are each paid more than $16MM annually, and Donald’s operated on a higher level than each during his four-year career.

Holding out for a second straight year, Donald is a key component to a Rams operation that’s taking a more aggressive approach to contention than it did last year. While no deal is imminent, talks will presumably heat up soon. Les Snead‘s already said a Donald resolution will need to involve an NFL-high defender contract, but will other defenders end up with a better deal?

Khalil Mack didn’t follow Donald’s lead and hold out last year, despite both being on the same timeline and the Raiders defensive end beating the Rams defensive tackle to the defensive player of the year throne. Now, Mack’s stayed away from the Raiders throughout the offseason. While the Raiders may be a tad behind the Rams on the preseason hype scale, Mack has been vital to their defense — a perennially shaky unit despite his dominance — and plays the game’s most valuable defensive role.

At 27, Mack is two years younger than Miller. And the cap is now $22MM higher than it was when the Broncos signed their edge-rushing phenom. It stands to reason Mack will sign a more lucrative deal. However, Derek Carr accepted less than market value at $25MM per year to help Oakland be in better position to keep its core together. With that contract on the books, and a situation the Rams do not have to navigate with Jared Goff just yet, will Mack end up just behind Donald in this pursuit? The Raiders also signed Carr in June of last year. Mack signing in June, to conclude a less contentious process than Donald’s, would open the door for Donald to come in and exceed whatever deal the Bay Area parties reach.

What about Jadeveon Clowney? Not as accomplished as the California-dwelling duo, the No. 1 pick in 2014 has become a star in his own right. And at 25, he’s two years younger than both. As injuries have sidetracked J.J. Watt‘s otherworldly career, Clowney’s become one of the league’s best players. The Texans have a history of authorizing this kind of contract — as they did with Watt’s six-year, $100MM pact in 2014 — and have a quarterback at least two years away from an extension.

While Watt’s maladies have clouded his future and made Clowney more indispensable in the process, might Houston be leery of paying league-record money to another injury-prone performer? Clowney is not holding out, but he did not participate in minicamp while recovering from another surgery.

So, which defender will assume Miller’s position? What will it take to finalize such a deal? Will this derby end with a $20MM- or $21MM-per-year contract? Is there a darkhorse player (perhaps the franchise-tagged Demarcus Lawrence?) that could swoop in here? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your view in the comments section!

Texans Notes: Clowney, Watson, Mathieu

Jadeveon Clowney did not practice during the first set of Texans OTAs last week because of a surgery he underwent in the offseason, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Clowney had arthroscopic knee surgery after the season but remains sidelined as Houston’s offseason program commences, per Wilson, who adds the fifth-year edge defender recently sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. While the additional medical counsel and the lengthy time off could be deemed a cause for concern, Wilson reports the outlook for Clowney is positive here. An extension for the former No. 1 overall pick has been on the Texans’ agenda for a bit now, and the team is eyeing what promises to be a landmark contract being finalized before the regular season. It doesn’t look as though this knee issue will cloud that. Although, no deal is imminent just yet.

Here’s the latest out of Houston, as its NBA franchise prepares for a rather significant game.

  • As expected, Deshaun Watson participated in part of the Texans’ OTAs. The second-year quarterback took part in individual drills, per Bill O’Brien (via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle). However, Watson also participated in some of the seven-on-seven portion of the workout. Pointing out Watson has not experienced any setbacks this offseason, McClain notes the Texans’ starter is expected to be 100 percent by the time training camp begins. “My knee feels well,” Watson said. “I’m comfortable to be able to throw and get the timing down with the receivers. There’s really no timeline on ACLs. It’s just dependent on how that person feels. I feel good.”
  • Tyrann Mathieu isn’t lobbying for the Texans to use him the way the Cardinals did. The Texans are, for now, planning on keeping their newly signed defensive back at the safety position exclusively. And Romeo Crennel‘s plan for Mathieu helped attract the free agent safety to Houston, he said. This comes after Mathieu spent plenty of time in the slot with the Cards. “Yeah, it definitely helps me slow things down,” Mathieu said of the safety-only role, via HoustonTexans.com. “Just focusing on one position, trying to be the best at that, rather than just being good at everything. So, I think it’s important for me to just embrace it like I have been and just trying to continue to grow as a safety.”

AFC Notes: Clowney, Gronk, Pagano

There has been much talk this offseason about the Texans and Jadeveon Clowney agreeing to a long-term deal before his rookie contract runs up after next season. Texans general manager Brian Gaine somewhat affirmed those reports Friday.

“I won’t discuss our negotiations publicly, but I’m optimistic that something can be done,” Houston general manager Brian Gaine said Friday at the team’s pre-draft press conference, per Sarah Barshop of ESPN.

The Texans took Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft and he’s due to make $12 million next season as part of his fifth-year option. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported earlier this month that the deal was still viewed as an “eventuallity,” though it’s not imminent.

“[I like his] height, weight, [and] speed,” Gaine continued. “The production, the performance, the pass-rush ability. The guy’s a disruptive player. He plays the run well. So we’re doing our best to fortify our nucleus of players, and we’d like him to be a part of it.”

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was absent from the team’s optional workouts last week. He said he doesn’t plan to attend next weeks’ voluntary workouts either, explaining his reasoning in one of the odder press conferences you’ll see. “I’ve got dirt-biking skills to work on,” said Gronkowski at a presser prior to the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at Gillette Stadium, via Phil Perry of NBC Sports Washington. Gronkowski, who’s contemplated retirement this offseason, also gave vague answers on if he’ll be back at all next season.
  • Former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano plans to take this season off from coaching and work as a consultant for the NFL, according to Troy Renck of Denver 7, ABC. Pagano was fired this offseason after the Colts missed the playoffs for a third straight season. Frank Reich has since been hired as the team’s head coach.
  • Earlier Saturday, the Jets officially announced that they’ve picked up the fifth-year option on defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

South Rumors: Jaguars, Hooker, Texans

The Jaguars would have an interesting setup for Lamar Jackson, employing a recently extended starting quarterback but a long-scrutinized player whose long-term future with the team remains in doubt. Tom Coughlin said Friday the Louisville prospect was an “outstanding young man” and an “extremely talented athlete.” But Dave Caldwell said the team that pulls the trigger on Jackson would have to be ready to adjust its offense to accommodate the dual-threat talent.

He’s a rare athlete,” Caldwell said, via Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union. “As a quarterback, he’s a good player. He won a lot of games at that position. [Drafting him] depends what your scheme is, what you want to do and how you want to play and how he fits. I can’t say he’s the prototypical pocket passer, but you can win games with a guy like him.”

Jacksonville holds the draft’s No. 29 overall pick and has not conducted a workout with Jackson, who may now be a full-fledged top-20 prospect.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Caldwell did not give an indication on which way he was leaning with regards to picking up Dante Fowler‘s fifth-year option. The Jacksonville GM said the team had not made a decision. Earlier today, Fowler’s price became clear. It will cost the Jaguars a massive sum ($14.2MM) to keep Fowler on their books for 2019 on his rookie contract.
  • On the subject of AFC South pass rushers, Brian Gaine is optimistic the Texans will extend Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. But Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports no deal is particularly close at this point. Clowney, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack figure to see the others members of this trio’s deals affect theirs, and Von Miller may become the fourth-highest-paid defender by the time this offseason is over.
  • Gaine does not plan to deviate from Rick Smith‘s philosophy of setting the offseason as the window for extension agreements. John McClane of the Houston Chronicle notes the first-year Houston GM wants to finalize re-ups before the regular season. Clowney and Benardrick McKinney‘s proceedings will put this approach to the test this year.
  • Malik Hooker joined his Colts teammates for the start of their offseason program earlier this month but said (via Matt Taylor of Colts.com) he’s “not 100 percent by any means” as he recovers from a severe knee injury. Colts.com’s Andrew Walker writes training camp isn’t a certainty for the 2017 first-rounder, who went down in late October of last year with a torn ACL and MCL.
  • Former Broncos and Bears linebacker Lamin Barrow was driving the car at the time of the accident that ended with Buccaneers ‘backer Kendell Beckwith fracturing an ankle, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Barrow and Beckwith were LSU teammates. The crash occurred at around 1 a.m., April 12. The vehicle veered off a road and crashed into a gate, per Laine. Although authorities said Barrow did not show signs of impairment, he was given a citation for driving with a suspended license.