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Barry Laminack: Texans Face Decision With Clowney

Barry Laminack: Texans Face Decision With Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney is about to get paid. Houstontexans.com

Jadeveon Clowney has made it clear that he wants to get an extension done sooner rather than later, and with new Texans GM Brian Gaine at the helm, there's optimism (at least within the Clowney camp) that a deal can get done. 

Clowney's 2016 and 2017 seasons went a long way in silencing many critics (yours truly included) who suggested he had all the potential in the world, but had yet to live up to the hype worthy of the number one pick in the 2014 NFL draft. With back to back  seasons of dominant play under his belt (including playing in all 16 games in 2017), Clowney has received high praise from many within the NFL world, and looks poised to command top 3 money for his position. 

The decision for the Texans is: do you extend Clowney now (as he has requested) or franchise him over the next two seasons and risk getting into a bidding war when he hits free agency?

From a football perspective, it makes sense to extend him now. Top level pass rushers are not easy to find, and there's a risk that refusing to extend (and thus franchising) Clowney could have a negative impact on his desire to remain with the team long term. 

Then there's what's going on on the other side of the line. If JJ Watt isn't able to return to his pre-injury level of play, having Clowney on the opposite Watt as he plays out his career would be huge. Without Clowney, offensive lines would have a much easier time scheming against the Texans, so from a tactical perspective keeping Clowney could make Watt better (it sounds weird when I type it, but it's true). 

From a money standpoint, estimates show Clowney could get about $16M in 2019 if hit with the franchise tag, and about $19.5M in 2020 if franchised. Combine that with his 2018 salary ($13.8M) and that's about $49M over the next 3 years.

The website Spotrac estimates Clowney's value at around $16.5 million/year and surmises that he would be worth a six-year deal. Doing the math, that's $100M over 6 years. 

If the Texans could sign him to a 6 year, $100 million dollar deal (or in that neighborhood) and offer him more than the $50M guaranteed he would earn if franchised through 2020, it could be just the solution both sides are looking for. Clowney would get the security and payday he wants, and the Texans would get a premier pass rusher in the prime of his career, and at a bit of discount.

Do you think the Texans should extend Clowney or franchise him for the next couple of years? Let me know on Twitter @BarryIsFunny.

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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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