Time for a move?
Fred Faour: As strange as it sounds, Texans trading Jadeveon Clowney makes sense in a lot of ways
It might seem silly on the surface to suggest trading your best defensive player. But now might be the time for the Texans to cash in on a deal for Jadeveon Clowney -- before he cashes in himself.
Clowney has been one of the lone bright spots for the Texans in an otherwise dismal year. He has been a force all year, with a career-high nine sacks and is second in the league in tackles for loss. His value has never been higher.
He has one year left on a contract that will pay him over $13 million next year and will likely become the highest paid defensive player in the league when he gets his new deal. But if you are the Texans, does it make sense to pay him that much when you already have significant money tied up in J.J. Watt? Presumably, Watt will return healthy next season, although he may never be what he was. The defense will also get Whitney Mercilus back. Should there be a coaching change, it’s possible you would have three players all making huge money as pass rushers. Does that make fiscal sense?
The Texans have significant holes on the offensive line and secondary and will have to hit the reset button on several veteran players on defense. They have no early picks in this year’s draft and will have to commit money through free agency. While they have solid salary cap room, a Clowney trade could give them even more flexibility.
The pros and cons
The other key reasons to do it:
Clowney may never be any better than he is right now, and you will have to commit significant dollars to keep him.
As good as he has been, it has not helped. The team and the defense have been dreadful.
Another team might offer a No. 1 pick to replace the one the Texans traded, and possibly a player as well who can help the OL or secondary.
The Texans have always been good at finding D Linemen and linebackers. While you won’t get the same quality, you can mitigate his loss.
He is the one player on the roster with the contract status and value to get back a significant return.
There are reasons not to move Clowney as well:
There is no guarantee Watt will ever be healthy again, much less the dominant force he was before.
Clowney is a rare talent and with more help he could get even better.
You simply don’t trade your best players in the NFL. Deals like this are rare, although we have seen a lot more lately.
In the end, however, the potential return outweighs those factors. Obviously, you would have to get a first round pick, another pick and a plug and play starter at a position of need, just to get the conversation started. Some might suggest dealing Watt instead, but after missing most of the last two seasons, he would have little trade value, and his onerous contract makes moving him almost impossible.
As silly as it sounds, the Texans best move might be to move on from their best defensive player and trade Clowney.
In case you missed it, Johnny Manziel has been cleared to play football in the CFL and sign a contract. Details in my SportsMap story here.