Jadeveon Clowney

Texans Notes: Gaine, Caserio, Clowney, Mathieu

Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine‘s firing shouldn’t be attributed to his inability to sign Jadeveon Clowney, writes Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. We heard last week that the former executive had made “zero” progress on an extension for the former number-one pick, and a lack of development may have played a role in his firing.

However, Breer said there wasn’t any organizational disagreement over the handling of Clowney. The team was interested in signing the linebacker on their terms, and they were content opting for the franchise tag. For what it’s worth, we learned earlier today that Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact.

So what was the main reason for Gaine’s firing? Breer points to a lack of “fit” and “alignment,” as the former general manager didn’t share the same vision as head coach Bill O’Brien. Furthermore, the reporter believes the team’s current pursuit of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also played a role in the decision.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Houston, all via Breer…

  • Speaking of Caserio, his relationship with O’Brien and executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby could play a role in him leaving New England. There’s been a perception that Caserio wouldn’t leave the Patriots, but the reporter points out that the executive had been closing to leaving before (he considered taking the Dolphins’ gig in 2014). Breer wonders if the Texans could also look to Patriots college scouting director Monti Ossenfort or former Patriots executive (and current Falcons assistant GM) Scott Pioli for the role.
  • There also wasn’t an organizational disagreement over the handling of Tyrann Mathieu. The team recognized that the Pro Bowl safety had lofty monetary demands, and they never intended to go as far as the three-year, $42MM deal he received from the Chiefs this offseason. Meanwhile, the coaching staff has been happy with Gaine’s replacement for Mathieu, Tashaun Gipson.
  • Following Gaine’s signing of a five-year extension in 2018, the majority of his moves have actually been lauded by the front office and coaching staff. Breer points to the one-year deal for Mathieu, and he also notes the general manager’s ability to add productive rookies (receiver Keke Coutee and safety Justin Reid) in the 2018 draft despite not having a first- or second-rounder. While his inability to add a competent offensive line in front of Deshaun Watson certainly played a role in his firing, Breer opines that the forced trade of Duane Brown wasn’t the GM’s decision.
  • The Texans coaching staff has been happy with second-round offensive tackle Max Scharping and third-round tight end Kahale Warring. They’re also a “big fan” of first-rounder Tytus Howard. However, many pundits believe the Howard selection was a bit of a reach, and Breer wonders if O’Brien and Easterby’s Patriots’ philosophy clashed with Gaine’s eventual decision (as the two would have preferred trading back).

Jadeveon Clowney Not Expected To Attend Minicamp

No surprises here, but Texans edge defender Jadeveon Clowney is not expected to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Minicamp opens tomorrow.

Houston has put the franchise tag, valued at $17.1MM, on Clowney, but Clowney has yet to sign the franchise tender as he continues to push for a multiyear pact. The deadline for the two sides to come to terms on such a deal is July 15.

If and when Clowney gets his contract, it will be a doozy. Given the premium that teams are now paying for edge rushing talent, and given that Clowney is also a force to be reckoned with in the run game, he may well end up making over $22MM per season with $50MM or more guaranteed at signing,

It’s unclear whether the Texans are still actively shopping Clowney, but the fact that the team is currently without a GM is doubtlessly delaying a resolution. But it sounds as though former GM Brian Gaine wasn’t exactly making much progress on a new deal for Clowney, which may have been a contributing factor in Gaine’s ouster.

The Texans have targeted Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio to replace Caserio, but regardless of whom they hire, the first order of business for the new top exec will be addressing the Clowney situation.

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Fallout From Texans’ Brian Gaine Firing

While Brian Gaine had little chance to showcase his roster-building vision through the draft, the since-fired Texans GM was in charge of significant extension talks. A lack of development on the Jadeveon Clowney front may have factored into his firing. The 17-month GM made “zero” progress on a Clowney extension, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweets. Gaine also called the Chiefs about a Clowney deal before the draft, per Robinson, and continued calling teams after Clark was traded to Kansas City. Clowney has been extension-eligible since the start of 2017. After word of prospective 2018 talks emerged, not much transpired on that front last year. The 2014 No. 1 overall pick is attached to a $17.1MM franchise tag. Houston’s next GM will have to deal with this situation, along with likely another J.J. Watt contract. The five-time All-Pro’s $16.7MM-AAV deal now looks remarkably team-friendly, given where the market has ventured.

Here is the latest out of Houston:

  • While this firing stunned the NFL-following world, it surprised many key Texans staffers as well. Some personnel people did not know this was on tap until moments before the organization released its statement, Robinson tweets. The Texans wrapped up their OTAs this week but still have their minicamp next week. That will almost certainly be conducted without a general manager. Of the GMs hired in advance of the 2018 season, Gaine was the only one whose team made the playoffs. Both Brian Gutekunst and Dave Gettleman oversaw sub-.500 seasons.
  • Despite joining the Texans this offseason, Jack Easterby looks set to have influence on who the team’s next GM will be. The recently appointed executive vice president of team development (a position the Texans recently created) has become a key figure in Houston’s front office, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Hired after a six-year run as the Patriots’ character coach, Easterby has become a close confidant of Bill O’Brien‘s, per Breer. This seems pivotal considering O’Brien will now be coaching alongside a third GM. Easterby is also close friends with Patriots VP of player personnel Nick Caserio, per the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain. Caserio is back on the Texans’ radar.
  • Another potential name to watch: Scott Pioli. The longtime Falcons exec and former Chiefs GM recently stepped down from his Atlanta post, but an NFL personnel man floated him as a prospective candidate to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Pioli, of course, ascended as a Patriots front office bastion. His and O’Brien’s New England stays overlapped by two years, from 2007-08.

Texans Shopping Jadeveon Clowney?

It appears the Texans would not only be open to trading Jadeveon Clowney, they might be the ones making the calls.

In what would be the third tag-and-trade scenario involving an edge defender this offseason, the Texans have contacted teams about Clowney, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter).

The Texans made calls about possible Clowney trades just as the news broke of the Seahawks’ talks about dealing Frank Clark. Robinson categorizes the Texans’ situation with Clowney as similar to where the Seahawks stood with Clark. This is interesting, considering Houston does not have a quarterback contract like Russell Wilson‘s on its payroll and enters the first round of the draft with more than $41MM in cap space — second-most in the league.

Last week, Texans GM Brian Gaine expressed optimism about reaching an accord, though we haven’t heard positive news on that front. Clowney has been extension-eligible for two years now, and the sides have not been particularly close to a deal. They did not get close last year, when Clowney was tethered to a fifth-year option, and may not be near an agreement — hence the trade chatter — now that the outside linebacker is attached to a $17.1MM franchise tag.

With Clark and Lawrence now receiving $21MM-plus-AAV deals, Clowney likely is setting his bar higher. The 2014 No. 1 overall pick has battled injuries at multiple points in his career, including last offseason, but also made three straight Pro Bowls before turning 26. This will be an interesting situation to monitor.

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Texans Open To Trading Jadeveon Clowney

Could Jadeveon Clowney be on the move? The Texans are open to trading the star linebacker, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (via PFT). 

Clowney was cuffed with the franchise tag earlier this offseason, but he has yet to sign his tender. Meanwhile, the two sides remain far apart on negotiations for a new deal.

Last week, Texans GM Brian Gaine expressed optimism about reaching an accord, though we haven’t heard positive news on that front.

“That’s the spirit of the franchise tag,” Gaine said“You know, there’s a reason why we did that with every hope and intention to continuing to work on that. That’s a negotiation, it’s a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides, for the player, for the organization as it relates to short term and long term. That’s still the plan.”

Clowney wouldn’t be the first defensive star to be tagged-and-traded. Just this week, the Seahawks shipped standout Frank Clark to the Chiefs and Clowney could be the next to don a new jersey.

The outside linebacker was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Last year, he racked up nine sacks in 15 games. He’s also a difference-maker in the run game – he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ tenth-best edge defender in 2018.

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Texans GM On Jadeveon Clowney Negotiations: “It’s A Process”

Recent reports indicated that the Texans and Jadeveon Clowney haven’t made any progress on a long-term deal. However, general manager Brian Gaine said the two sides are still working on completing negotiations before the July 15th deadline.

“That’s the spirit of the franchise tag,” Gaine told Deepi Sidhu of HoustonTexans.com. “You know, there’s a reason why we did that with every hope and intention to continuing to work on that. That’s a negotiation, it’s a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides, for the player, for the organization as it relates to short term and long term. That’s still the plan.”

The Texans franchised Clowney last month, and the pass-rusher subsequently decided to skip out on the team’s offseason program. When those reports surfaced, we also heard that “no deal is in sight or expected anytime soon.” Clowney is set to make $15.44MM on the franchise tag in 2019. The two sides have until July 15th to negotiate an extension, per league rules. If the two sides don’t agree on a new deal, Clowney would have to play next season under the tag (or he could follow the Le’Veon Bell route and sit out the entire campaign).

Considering Clowney’s recent production, the 26-year-old should expect a lucrative contract. The former first-overall pick compiled nine sacks in 15 games last season, and he ultimately graded out as Pro Football Focus’ tenth-best edge defender. Some pundits believe that the deal Demarcus Lawrence just got from the Cowboys is a good sign for Clowney, and others believe that Frank Clark‘s standoff with the Seahawks could also provide some clarity.

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Jadeveon Clowney Won’t Report To Texans’ Offseason Program, Deal Not Close

We just got word that Chris Harris Jr. will be skipping the Broncos’ minicamp this week, and now we have news that another defensive star will be staying away from his team. 

Texans pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney will skip the team’s offseason program, sources told Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle. Wilson also writes that “no deal is in sight or expected anytime soon for Clowney.” Houston franchise tagged Clowney at the beginning of last month, and we haven’t heard much since. Many observers have said the deal Demarcus Lawrence just got from the Cowboys is a good sign for Clowney, but there has been little progress between the two sides.

Clowney is supposed to make $15.44MM in 2019 under the tag, but wants a longterm deal. The former first overall pick from South Carolina had a productive year last year, racking up nine sacks in 15 games. He’s also a difference-maker in the run game, and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ tenth-best edge defender last season.

Under NFL rules, the two sides have until July 15th to negotiate an extension. If they can’t come to an agreement by then, Clowney must play the 2019 season under the tag, or sit it out like Le’Veon Bell did. Clowney, who struggled with injury issues earlier in his career, has been able to stay healthy the past few seasons. He’s seeking top-of-the market money, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Texans decide to play this. Fellow pass-rusher Frank Clark is still waiting for a new deal from the Seahawks, and whichever one signs first could have a ripple effect on the other.

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Details, Reactions To DeMarcus Lawrence Extension

Last night, the Cowboys and star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence agreed to a lucrative five-year contract extension. The deal is expected to be worth around $105MM ($65MM guaranteed), with others noting that the pass-rusher will definitely earn more than $20MM annually.

Now that the pass-rusher has inked his new contract, he’s set to go under the knife. Albert Breer of TheMMQB reports (via Twitter) that Lawrence will finally undergo shoulder surgery. The procedure is expected to take place next week.

Lawrence has been dealing with a torn labrum for the better part of two years, and recovery time is expected to take three to four months. As a result, the defender will likely be sidelined until training camp.

Let’s check out some more notes pertaining to Lawrence’s new contract…

  • Lawrence also received a $25MM signing bonus, reports David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). This probably helped to make up some of the discrepancy between the final contract and Lawrence’s asking price, as the lineman was reportedly seeking a contract that would pay him around $22.5MM per year. As Jon Machota of the Dallas News tweets, Lawrence will ultimately earn $31.1MM in the first year of the deal. For comparison’s sake, Khalil Mack earned $31MM last season.
  • According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, the two sides made major strides on Thursday evening. Executive vice president Stephen Jones talked with Lawrence on the phone, and the two parties talked through any monetary issues. Less than 24 hours later, the two sides agreed to a deal.
  • NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says the Lawrence contract is good news for Texans star Jadeveon Clowney and Seahawks standout Frank Clark (Twitter link). The reporter believes the two players now have parameters set for any future extensions, noting that the franchised pass-rushers could also expect to receive $20MM annually.

Extra Points: Tags, Haskins, Jets, Bucs

Both the Chiefs and Texans may be in for grievances. Both teams used their franchise tags on edge defenders — Dee Ford and Jadeveon Clowney, respectively — and each team officially classified its tag recipient as a linebacker. The linebacker tag comes at a $15.443MM price. Both players have cases to be tagged as defensive ends, with Clowney frequently lining up as a lineman for Houston and Ford set to play end in Kansas City’s new 4-3 scheme. The defensive end price: $17.128MM — the second-highest tag figure. Clowney already received just more than $1MM from the Texans to resolve a dispute about what position he was categorized as in regards to his fifth-year option. That may go toward preempting a grievance here, but it’s not certain. A Ford grievance seems likely. He spends more time rushing from the defensive end position in the Chiefs’ sub-packages. Terrell Suggs filed a grievance about a linebacker tag in 2008, and an arbitrator ruled the parties to split the difference between the linebacker and end tags. But this is a case-by-case process.

Here is the latest from the pre-free agency news cycle:

  • While Janoris Jenkins is set to avoid cap-casualty status, another member of the Giants‘ 2016 free agency defender splurge may not. Whether Olivier Vernon is traded or cut, the veteran edge rusher is a near-certainty to be jettisoned from the Giants’ defense, Tom Rock of Newsday notes. As is the case with Landon Collins‘ exit, a Vernon departure would create a massive need on a New York defense that has several need areas.
  • Dwayne Haskins has been a popular mock pick for the Giants, and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes Big Blue indeed has been “all over” the Ohio State-developed quarterback, researching his viability as Eli Manning‘s successor. Dave Gettleman does not plan to turn the keys over to a later-round pick, with Vacchiano adding the heir apparent will be a first-round choice. So if the Giants balk at a passer with another top-10 pick, they may be willing to roll the dice one more time and wait until 2020.
  • Mike Maccagnan has said the Jets will be aggressive in free agency, which would make sense given the team’s plethora of needs and $100MM-plus in cap space. Gang Green will attempt to find a center and a guard in free agency, per Vacchiano. This comes after the Jets cut 2018 center Spencer Long. There are some interesting center options, with Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse set to hit the market. At guard, there aren’t as many younger free agents; the top options are deeper into their careers.
  • Donovan Smith‘s 2019 cap figure will still be hefty, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com, who notes the Buccaneers‘ left tackle will carry a $12.5MM figure next season. Although it is not the $14.1MM figure Smith was briefly attached to via the franchise tag, that is still a large number for a team that does not have much cap space. Smith’s 2020 and ’21 base salaries will be $14.5MM and $14.25MM, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • Former Bears head coach Mark Trestman will return to coach in the States. He’s been hired as HC of the XFL’s Tampa Bay team. He joins Bob Stoops, Jim Zorn and Pep Hamilton as coaches to have signed on with the rebooting league. An acclaimed CFL coach prior to his two-season Bears stay, Trestman went back to Canada and was the Toronto Argonauts’ HC for the past two seasons.

Texans Franchise Tag Jadeveon Clowney

The Texans have franchise tagged outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, according to a team announcement. If no long-term deal is reached between now and the July extension deadline for franchised players, Clowney will be cuffed by a one-year, $15.443MM tender. 

The Texans used the non-exclusive tag on Clowney, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. With this designation, Clowney can shop his offer sheet around, but an unmatched offer sheet would result in the new team sending two first-round picks to the Texans as compensation. The non-exclusive version used more commonly than the exclusive tag in the NFL and only occasionally results in a trade. Last year, however, the Dolphins and Browns swung a tag-and-trade involving Jarvis Landry, though the compensation was much lower than two first-round picks.

Teams have rankled players in the past by tagging them as outside linebackers rather than defensive ends, but it won’t make a huge difference for Clowney. Last year, the Texans gave Clowney an extra $1MM to settle a dispute over his fifth-year option, so the 120% rule on the tag would give him a $15.967MM salary for 2019. Therefore, the difference between Clowney’s tag and the tag he’d get as a defensive end ($17MM) is minimal.

Clowney likely would have preferred to test free agency before coming to the table with the Texans, but, like the other top edge rushers, Clowney will be held back by the tag. The 26-year-old would undoubtedly cash in as an unrestricted free agent, but the Texans are reportedly unwilling to go “anywhere near” the market-resetting deals signed by Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald last summer. For what it’s worth, GM Brian Gaine says the team’s “goal is to continue to work with his representation on a long-term contract.”

For his part, Clowney is expected to take his sweet time when it comes to signing the tender. Without a long-term deal or a signed tender, the defensive end will have the right to abstain from offseason activities, training camp, and even games. An in-season holdout would cost Clowney $900K+ for every missed game.

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