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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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Houston drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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