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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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