The team's general manager at the combine discussed the team using the tag
Franchise tag "an option" for Texans with Clowney
Texans general manager Brian Gaine said at the NFL Scouting Combine the team won't discuss contracts publicly when he was asked about impending free agents. He did however confirm the Texans would use the franchise tag if necessary.
"It's certainly an option," said the second-year general manager. "It's not the priority, but it's certainly an option."
Defensive standout Jadeveon Clowney is the most-likely candidate though safeties Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu are also available to be tagged by Houston. Gaine mentioned he will meet with all three player's representation this week.
"We want to make an effort to keep all our good players," he said. "Keep our core players intact. Those guys are valuable guys."
The franchise tag grants the player the average of the top five salaries at their position for one season. The one-year deal is fully guaranteed and hits the team's salary cap as soon as the player signs his franchise tag. The team then has until mid-July to agree on an long-term contract before the player is locked into the one-year deal. A player who signs a franchise tag can be traded by his team.
Clowney's case is interesting because while he is listed as an outside linebacker he plays all over the defense. There is a difference of a few million dollars between being tagged as a linebacker and as a defensive end.
According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer the NFLPA projects a linebacker to have a tag of $15.59 million while a defensive end carries a tag of $17.29 million. Pro Football Focus places Clowney at end more than linebacker in their assessment of his snaps by detailed position.
No surprise Brian Gaine was tight-lipped about his next move with a lot of his free agents. He will have to start running the numbers when he begins discussions with the various free agents making sure adding say Mathieu back doesn't restrict what he can pay Clowney or Jackson.
It would seem the Texans aren't going right to the franchise tag with Clowney, but instead are using it for the tag's intended use. It was not put into the NFL's collective bargaining agreement to get out of extending a player. It was placed in there to guarantee the player some level of security while the team continues to negotiate a contract with him.
This is the approach I believe the Texans should be taking with Clowney. The franchise tag should be the last resort. Letting him walk is not an option. Short of an unbelievable haul trading him after tagging him should not be an option. They should be working with Clowney and his agent to keep him in Houston for a long time. The value of the contract will be hotly contested. If Clowney wants Khalil Mack or Aaron Donald money it might be a price too steep for the Texans to spend and ultimately that would lead to a year playing under the franchise tag. Not the worst thing for Clowney but not the best either.
If the Texans truly want him back, and there is no reason to believe they don't as he has been one of their best players for years, negotiating up to the franchise tag deadline (March 5) and using the tag if negotiations need to go further is best for all parties involved. Remember, deadlines get deals done. Next week is the first of two important deadlines for the Texans.