What NFL teams could be interested?

5 teams that could trade for Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney has played out his rookie contract, including his fifth year option for the Houston Texans. He's since been slapped with the franchise tag for the 2019 season and has held out from the offseason program, as he hopes to land a long-term, blockbuster deal, similar to that of Khalil Mack.

Clowney may end up with a similar path to Mack on the way to his payday. Mack was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Chicago Bears in 2018, along with the Raiders 2020 second round pick and a conditional 2020 fifth round pick. In return the Raiders received Chicago's 2019 first round pick, 2019 sixth round pick, 2020 first round pick and their 2020 third round pick. In addition, the Bears rewarded Mack with a six-year contract for $141 million, which included $60 million guaranteed at signing and a total guarantee of $90 million.

Frank Clark was traded this offseason from the Seattle Seahawks to the Kansas City Chiefs on the way to a massive contract that saw him receive an average per year of $20.8 million. While Demarcus Lawrence wasn't traded, like Clark, he saw a new contract as a pass rusher that brought in an APY of $21 million.

Clowney is sure to land an average per year in the amount of $20 million+. His agent may demand a number that surpasses that of Khalil Mack, in not only APY but in guarantee as well. As I wrote last year, I don't think it would be wise for the Texans to shell out that amount to Clowney.

The question isn't whether Clowney is a good pass rusher. The question is, does he deserve to be paid as the best or second best pass rusher in the NFL. While he's explosive, powerful and agile, he doesn't lack the repertoire of an elite NFL pass rusher. Instead, he settles for splash plays and is content on being elite against the run and winning versus pass blockers with the same methods he did in college.

However, there will always be a need for pass rushers in the NFL and coaches / teams will always believe that they can get a guy to the next level. So, who are those teams that may trade for Jadeveon Clowney? What would they be willing to give up as compensation, while knowing that they'll have to probably shell out an average per year of $22-24 million to keep their new weapon happy?

Why the 49ers could trade for Jadeveon Clowney

The 49ers are $31.5 million under the salary cap for the 2019 season. The landscape gets tougher for 2020 but with the amount remaining, for this season, they can rollover cap space to help out the following season.

It may not make sense on the surface to trade for and pay a pass rusher like Clowney, considering that they've used first round picks on the defensive line in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019, along with trading a second round pick in 2020 for Dee Ford. Once you dig deeper, there's a method to my madness on a 49ers / Texans trade.

49ers Receive: Jadeveon Clowney

Texans Receive: Solomon Thomas, Jason Verrett and San Francisco's 2020 First Round Pick

San Francisco could build a front seven in the mold of what Richard Sherman played with in Seattle. Arik Armstead is a free agent after the 2019 season and is playing out the fifth year option of his rookie contract. He'll be a free agent after the season and hasn't been the defensive force the 49ers expected when they drafted him in the first round. In 2018, Armstead saw his best statistical season, in which he put up 3 sacks, 6 tackles for a loss and 12 QB hits. San Franciso picked up DeForest Buckner's 5th year option for 2020, after a breakout season in 2018. Last season he had 12 sacks, 17 TFLs and 20 QB hits. The 49ers have Nick Bosa who they just drafted, to go along with the newly acquired Dee Ford, but they lack depth on the outside, with the exception of Solomon Thomas, who has been underwhelming since being drafted 3rd overall. Thomas has 4 career sacks to go with 13 TFLs in 25 starts.

Clowney's versatility allows the 49ers to float him around at defensive end, tackle and linebacker. He upgrades the interior next to Buckner while playing ahead of Armstead and forces defenses to play rookie Nick Bosa and Dee Ford one-on-one. While Ford did receive a 5-year deal worth $85.5 million, in essence it's really only a 2-year deal, due to only have $19.7 million guaranteed at signing. This move also gives the 49ers more wiggle room with DeForest Buckner during his upcoming contract negotiations.

By sending Solomon Thomas to the Texans and acquiring Clowney, the 49ers wash their hands of what looks like a bad pick, albeit, only two years into a possible 5-year deal. The Texans have several players that can create a pass rush, while not being your typical edge player, but securing Thomas gives them a player that they could hopefully continue to mold to his potential behind the likes of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

Jason Verrett's inclusion may raise some eyebrows, seeing how he's coming off of a torn Achilles, two years after a partial ACL tear. The Texans are thin at cornerback and this is a low risk, potential high reward "throw-in" for a team that just benefited from taking a shot on Tyrann Mathieu, despite his short career including a torn ACL and LCL in his left leg in 2013, followed by a tore right ACL in 2015.

While the odds are stacked against Jason Verrett to come back and show the ability to play at the same high level he did at TCU and early on in the NFL, it's worth the roll of the dice and maybe he turns into the next Brent Grimes, who returned from an Achilles tear in 2012 to have a great NFL career. Even in recent memory, the Eagles took Sidney Jones 43rd overall, despite him tearing his Achilles pre-draft. How great was Verrett in college? He was a fringe top 10 pick in my evaluation. Even until this day, there has never been a more fun tape study than the TCU vs LSU game that displayed Verrett vs O'dell Beckham Jr.

All of the above mentioned players have similar stature as Mathieu, Verrett and Grimes measure between 5'9-5'10 and weigh between 175-180 pounds, give or take a protein bar. Sidney Jones comes in a little taller at 6'0 - 180 pounds. It's probably coincidence but worth the risk to see if players of that build, among defensive backs have bodies more suitable for the return.

If traded, Solomon Thomas would leave the 49ers with $4.6 million in dead money, but I'd assume the Texans would gladly swallow up half of that amount and maybe more with Houston getting relief from Clowney's cap number.

That extra first could help the Texans force Nick Caserio to become more "disgruntled" with the Patriots' organization and lead to a trade between the Patriots / Texans. While I don't believe the Texans would send a first to New England for Caserio, it would make it easier for the franchise to swallow sending a 3rd rounder or even, possibly a 2nd rounder to acquire their GM of the future without having to wait until after the 2020 NFL Draft.

​Why the Bucs could trade for Jadeveon Clowney​

Tampa Bay only has $8.3 million in cap room for the 2019 season. In the NFL, if there's a player you want, you move things around to get him. In 2020, the books open up as the Bucs have $46 million in cap space.

Just 3 short years ago, Bruce Arians was in Arizona when the Patriots called the Cardinals about a trade that would send New England's young pass rusher, Chandler Jones to the Cards. The deal was struck and the Cardinals received Chandler Jones, while sending Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick to the Patriots.

Jones was set to become a free agent after the season, as were numerous other Patriots. Instead of waiting for a 3rd round comp pick to come their way, if and when they weren't able to re-sign Jones, they got the return that they could at the time.

While in New England, Jones put up 36 sacks, 38 TFLs and 64 QB hits in 55 games (4 seasons). He was 25 years old in his last season played with the Patriots.

In Clowney's time with the Texans, he's put up 29 sacks, 64 TFLs and 67 QB hits in 62 games (5 seasons). Clowney turned 26 back in February.

The Bucs have some talented linebackers with LaVonte David, Kevin Minter and the addition of first round, stud, Devin White. Longtime stalwart, Gerald McCoy departed from the interior of the defensive line to head to divisional rival, Carolina, but was replaced by Ndamukong Suh. Suh was drafted 1 pick ahead of McCoy in the 2010 NFL draft, but is a year older than the new Panther. At 32, Suh's abilities have been on a decline in recent years. Last year's first round pick, Vita Vea brings some youth to the defensive line, but that doesn't help on the edge, directly.

The Bucs traded for Jason Pierre-Paul last season and he didn't disappoint. JPP put up 12.5 sacks in his first season in Tampa. Pierre-Paul who gained notoriety off the field for a fireworks accident which cost him parts of multiple fingers on his right hand. His triumphant return to the field since then has been marred by another horrific off-field accident. JPP was involved in a single-car accident that left him with a serious neck injury that is expected to keep him off the field until October or November this season.

That's troubling news for a Bucs' pass rush that lacks production. Their next big producer at defensive end, from a season ago, is a guy that Texans' Head Coach, Bill O'Brien is very familiar with. Carl Nassib had his breakout season in 2018 after coming over from Cleveland, by recording 6.5 sacks to go with 12 TFLs and 14 QB hits. Nassib a few years ago made news by saying that while at Penn State, his former Head Coach, O'Brien, told him that he'd never be a pro.

Nassib's contract expires after this season and JPP only has two years left on his deal, which will see him miss at least half of that time, due to the latest injury. Factor in newly acquired Suh and Shaq Barrett only having one-year contracts and it's easy to see how the pass rush is a huge need for the Bucs.

Bucs Receive: Jadeveon Clowney

Texans Receive: Noah Spence and Tampa Bay's 2020 First Round Pick

As mentioned earlier, while in Arizona, Arians was able to acquire a much need pass rusher by taking a young, talented defensive end who was due for a new contract. He did so by giving out a second round pick and a player that was highly coveted in a recent draft, at the time, in Jonathan Cooper. Bill O'Brien comes from the Belichick tree and may also be inclined to attempt to find something in a highly-touted draft pick that hadn't lived up to the hype.

Noah Spence was suppose to be the future of the Tampa Bay pass rush but has struggled to even see the field in his first 3 seasons with the Bucs. In a contract year and with not only a new coach in Arians, but a new scheme and defensive coordinator in Todd Bowles, there's renewed hope that Spence could reignite the hope of his potential. Reports out of Tampa are saying that a position switch is coming to the young pass rusher, as Bowles switches the Bucs from their former 4-3 to his 3-4 base defense.

If the Bucs can add Clowney's versatility, I'd imagine that they would gladly pass on finding out if Spence can overcome his shoulder injuries and become the value he was expected to be.

In Houston, Spence would get a fresh start and an opportunity to rotate into a talented front seven. Houston would get a return on their former #1 overall pick from 2014 and depth with a possible upside.

​Why the Jets could trade for Jadeveon Clowney​

The Jets have $28.2 million in cap room for 2019 and $33 million for 2020. They have the ability and the need to acquire a pass rusher. Joe Douglas took the General Manger job long after the 2019 NFL Draft and free agency. You have to imagine that he'd like to add his own signature to this team before the 2019 season.

When Leonard Williams "fell" to the Jets at 6th overall, back in the 2015 NFL Draft, he was thought to be a steal. While he's been good, he hasn't been the player that the Jets had hoped for. It's one of the reasons why Williams is playing under his 5th year option on his rookie contract. Williams' sack numbers have fluctuated, as has his TFLs since entering the league.

2015 - 3 sacks and 7 TFLs / 2016 - 7 sacks and 11 TFLs / 2017 - 2 sacks and 3 TFLs / 2018 - 5 sacks and 11 TFLs

His QB hits, however, have stayed around the same line, going from 21 in 2015 to 19, 25 and finally 20 last season.

The Jets drafted Quinnen Williams 3rd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft and the extra addition to the defensive line could help to bolster Leonard to a new level, or that's at least the hope in New York.

Leonard Williams received some help in 2018 with the addition of Henry Anderson who was acquired via trade from the Indianapolis Colts. In his first year with the Jets, Anderson set his career high and matched that of Williams by reaching 7 sacks. He was rewarded with a 3 year deal worth $25 million. Even with Henry Anderson and Quinnen Williams both in the fold, the Jets badly need an edge presence as right now it's being held down by the likes of Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Copeland and Tarell Basham. They were fortunate enough to have Jachai Polite "fall" to the 68th pick of the draft, where they scooped him up, but there's no telling how he'll do, not just in the NFL but in New York City.

Jenkins is coming off his best sack season, just like Anderson, in which he too recorded 7 sacks to go along with 15 QB hits. It'll be great news for the Jets if he can continue to increase his production but his contract is up after the season. Copeland's breakout season in 2018 amounted to 5 sacks, which brings his total for his 4 year career to 5.5.

Jadeveon Clowney is not only needed with the Jets but would be a star with the New York City lights shining bright on him. Clowney is a big kid with a dynamic personality and a million dollar smile. He's made for the spotlight.

The Jets could throw Clowney in at outside linebacker and/or allow him to jump on the defensive line with the new Williams Wall.

Jets Receive: Jadeveon Clowney

Texans Receive: New York Jets' 2020 First Round Pick + 2020 Sixth Round Pick (One acquired from Chiefs in Darron Lee trade) and 2021 Second Round Pick

Playing in a division with Tom Brady is difficult, to say the least. Clowney has a knack for making things tougher on Brady. Having a 3-man front that can create interior pressure with the likes of Quinnen Williams, Leonard Williams and Jadeveon Clowney is the perfect recipe for a team that wants to give their young QB and special running back a fighting chance. Clowney is versatile enough to also kick outside and allow Henry Anderson to come back at the five-technique.

Losing Clowney for the 2019 season without an immediate return does hurt Houston in the short-term, but the Texans have enough talented defensive linemen and linebackers to create a constant pressure with the likes of JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, DJ Reader, Carlos Watkins, Angelo Blackson, Charles Omenihu, Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham and Brennan Scarlett. While they would be thin at outside linebacker in 3-4 base looks, they are a versatile defense that manufactures pressure with a multitude of looks.

A team that has DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson on offense to go along with the previously mentioned defenders, among numerous others would look mighty enticing with two 1st round picks and 6th round picks in 2020 and two 2nd round picks in 2021 for any possible General Manager. The 2021 extra second round pick would soften the blow of possibly giving up compensation for Nick Caserio and allow him to keep all of the accumulated picks the Texans have for his first draft.

​Why the Cardinals could trade for Jadeveon Clowney​

The Arizona Cardinals have $6.5 million in cap space for this season but in 2020 they have the 5th most cap space available with over $53 million. If any team knows the value of trading for a young pass rusher, it's the Cardinals.
Arizona traded for Chandler Jones when New England didn't want to pay him. Jones has averaged 13+ sacks each year that he's been with the Cardinals. Just like with Jadeveon Clowney, Jones was 25 years old his last season that he played before being traded to the Cards. Jones should finish out his contract as he's still only 29 years old and playing at a high level, but adding Clowney gives them leverage in the case that Jones' play declines or he asks for a new contract. Arizona would only take on $6 million in dead money if they were to cut Jones after the season. Obviously, at the level he's playing, Arizona would look to pair Clowney with Jones and not as a replacement, if he was to continue with another productive season.

Terrell Suggs came over to Arizona this offseason with what was a 2 year, $10 million contract on paper but in essence is nothing more than a 1 year deal. The second year on the deal will void 5 days after the Super Bowl as Suggs will have already reached his $7 million guaranteed in the contract. Suggs has still been producing in the NFL, but is getting long in the tooth as he'll turn 37 during the 2019 NFL season.

Outside of Suggs and Jones, there's really no one to get excited about as sack masters. Arizona did draft Zach Allen in the 3rd round, 65th overall. It'd be wishful thinking to believe Allen could be a high-volume producer as a rookie, opposite of Suggs. They do have Brooks Reed, who like Suggs will be a free agent after the season. Since a breakout rookie season in which Reed had 6.5 sacks in Houston, he has averaged just over 2 sacks per year, over the last 7 seasons.

The defensive line has a solid unit with Corey Peters, Darius Philon and Robert Nkemdiche to go along with Jones. However, Nkemdiche is a free agent after the season. Despite 4.5 sacks last year, Nkemdiche never reached his full potential in the pros. A career that started with him being the storied #1 recruit coming out of high school. Corey Peters is 31 years old and scheduled to be a free agent after the 2020 season. Philon is a talented, youngster that is coming off of back-to-back 4+ sack seasons.

Clowney would be able to solidify the Cardinals front seven that includes inside linebackers, Haason Reddick and Jordan Hicks. Combining Clowney with the newly formed tandem of Suggs and Jones is enticing. Factor in Peters, Philon, Nkemdiche, Hicks and Reddick with Reed dropping back to depth, that's a unit that could sustain the defense, even with Patrick Peterson out.

Kliff Kingsbury wasn't known for his defense in college. Giving former Texans' defensive backs coach and new Cardinals' defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, these types of weapons, would allow Kingsbury to focus on Kyler Murray and not ask him to carry the entire team with Peterson out. It would also allow Joseph to sustain pressure with his front seven, taking pressure off of the secondary.

Cardinals receive Jadeveon Clowney
Texans receive Patrick Peterson + 2020 Second Round Pick and 2020 Fifth Round Pick (from Rosen trade)

The Texans are solid with their front seven and with their safety group of Justin Reid, Tashaun Gipson, Jahleel Addae and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. At cornerback, not so much. Johnathan Joseph is still Houston's best cornerback. Joseph is 35 years old and on the last year of his contract. They acquired Bradley Roby this offseason to go with Aaron Colvin from last offseason. Even if they all remain healthy, which has been a major issue with the Texans in recent years, they lack depth. Lonnie Johnson Jr was drafted in the second round but looks like another height-weight-length guy. Outside of Lonnie, it's special-teamer, Johnson Bademosi and late round picks from 2018 and 2019 in Jermaine Kelly and Xavier Crawford.

The need for a big-time cornerback is priority number one for the Texans...or at least it should be. The Texans franchise has salivated over Patrick Peterson since he entered the league. There were reports that Houston attempted to trade up to select Peterson, but instead stayed at pick 11 and took some pizza deliver boy, named JJ Watt. Ideally, they wouldn't be acquiring Peterson at the time he's schedule to serve a 6-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Regardless, you usually can't acquire a player of Peterson's caliber this late in the offseason as well.
Houston has the pieces to stay in playoff contention while Peterson serves his 6-games. Peterson would return with 10 games left in the regular season to help the Texans secure a playoff spot, but more importantly, help them advance in the playoffs. Unless, they'd like to put a 35-year old Johnathan Joseph on T.Y. Hilton, again. The Colts also added who I believe was the best receiver in the draft, Parris Campbell. Thinking about Roby or Colvin covering Campbell, should give the Texans nightmares.

The schedule works out for the Texans and a delayed addition of Peterson as well. Houston will only play one division rival in the first 6 games this season (Jacksonville). Week 7 they play the Colts, then the Jags week 9 followed by a bye week, then a rematch with the Colts week 12. December starts with a matchup with the Patriots, followed by the Broncos, two matchups with the Titans with the Bucs sandwiched in between.

Peterson asked to be traded last year, before walking back those comments later. It would be surprising if Arizona was playing in the postseason this year after the addition of a college head coach, who will be calling plays for a rookie quarterback. The Cardinals have to play the first 6 games without Peterson. The long-term focus should be their top priority. Pairing Clowney with Jones on the defense and developing the young defensive backs without having to re-insert a disgruntled Peterson in week 7 makes too much sense.

Arizona drafted Byron Murphy with the first pick of the second round with the hopes that he'd be the cornerback of the future. The Cardinals will need to throw him out there week one and let him get his legs under him. At the other positions, they have a healthy blend of veterans in Robert Alford, Tramaine Brock and Josh Shaw. Brandon Williams could benefit from a new face at defensive coordinator with a guy who was formerly a DB coach, in Joseph. The mix of Budda Baker, DJ Swearinger and Rudy Ford makes the unit salvageable while Peterson is suspended and beyond.

Clowney would also get to join back up with his close friend Swearinger from their days together as Gamecocks and Texans. The Cardinals just need to make sure their playing surface is safe and that Swearinger also keeps his Pit away from Clowney.

​Why Washington could trade for Jadeveon Clowney​

Washington is $7.2 million under the cap for 2019. While it's not a lot of room to work with, I'm confident that Bruce Allen could get a Jadeveon Clowney trade done. In 2020, Allen only has $18.3 million in cap space to work, but, again, when you're able to secure a former #1 overall player at a position of importance, it makes sense to at least entertain the idea.

Washington has made a priority of their trench/edge players in recent years. After selecting their quarterback of the future, Dwayne Haskins in the first round this year, they moved back into the first round to select Montez Sweat with the 26th pick overall. Washington gave up their 2nd round pick in 2019 and 2020. In 2018, they used their first round pick on Da'Ron Payne and third rounder on Geron Christian. 2017 saw them use their first two pick on trench/edge guys from Alabama, Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson. They went away from those positions early in 2016, but the year before saw them go to the trenches with their first two picks, again, with Brandon Scherff and Preston Smith. Lastly, 2014 saw them use their first 3 picks on these positions of importance with Trent Murphy, Morgan Moses and Spencer Long.
Jay Gruden became the Head Coach in Washington back in 2014 and still remains, despite going 35-44-1 during the previous five seasons. Time is running out for Gruden and while I love Dwayne Haskins as an NFL prospect, it's unfair to put too much on his plate year one. Washington has a stable of talented, albeit, banged up running backs, but they'll need their defense to help take pressure off the young signal caller.

It's true that Washington did select Montez Sweat late in the first round, but a guy who is 6'6, 260 pounds, who runs a 4.41 forty, shouldn't be available late in the first round, unless there are some red flags. For Sweat, those red flags came with the report of an enlarged heart at the 2019 NFL Combine. On top of the medical concerns, Sweat reportedly left Michigan State after a lengthy suspension. While the reasons for the suspension was never made public, I'll go out on a limb and say that it wasn't for getting good grades and being a great teammate.

I'm sure Washington has plans for Sweat being the bookend pass rusher opposite of Ryan Kerrigan for years to come and maybe he will. Even with Kerrigan, Washington has to look to future plans. It's not that his play has fallen off, on the contrary as he's averaged 12 sacks per season over the last 5 years. Father time comes for us all and Kerrigan will turn 31 before the season and is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

In the short-term, Washington has to be concerned with the thought of Sweat or Kerrigan missing time, whether due to injury or any other issue. The men offering depth in Washington are Ryan Anderson, who has 2 career sacks over two seasons, along with Marquis Flowers, that has accumulated 3.5 career sacks in his 4 year career. Flowers will be a free agent after this season, followed by Anderson's contract expiring following the 2020 season.

Jonathan Allen had a great season on the line in 2018, contributing 8 sacks, along with Matt Ioannidis chipping in 7.5 sacks. Between those behemoths, Da'Ron Payne put up 5 sacks as a rookie. The defensive line is looking good for 2019, but it's thin behind them. Not only is depth lacking on the edge, it's lacking on the line as well. Caleb Brantley provides some comfort but he, too, will be a free agent after the season. If only there was a player available that could alleviate some concerns at multiple positions in which the organization held in such high priority.

Washington receives Jadeveon Clowney
Houston received Trent Williams + Chris Thompson + 2020 Third Round Pick and 2021 First Round Pick

The Texans have a need on their offensive line. Even with the addition of Tytus Howard, Max Scharping and Matt Kalil, the Texans' fan base and Deshaun Watson would sleep a lot better to have someone of Trent Williams ilk anchor down the blindside. This would allow Tytus to move over to the right side and take his time developing as the franchise's future blindside protector. It would also allow Scharping to kick inside, where I believe he will be best suited.
It may seem like a lot for Washington to give up at first glance. You have to take into account that Williams will be 31 before the start of the season and has missed time in each of the last 5 seasons. Over the last 5 seasons, he's missed a total of 16 games. Despite having 2 years left on his contract, he's looking for a new deal, one in which some guarantee money is headed back his direction.

Chris Thompson has been a weapon in the passing game but doesn't offer much as a runner. He's never had a season with 70 carries and only has 5 rushing touchdowns in his career which consists of 55 games played with 1 start. Houston would love to add a great receiving back to Lamar Miller and D'Onta Foreman and Thompson fits the mold. He's averaged 41 receptions for 341 yards and 2.25 touchdowns over the last 4 seasons.

Washington ideally would love to keep Williams and Thompson, but it'd be hard for them to pass on securing the services of a 26-year old pass rusher that would provide an upgrade and depth at outside linebacker and on the defensive line. They wouldn't have to hassle with Williams over a new contract and could slide in Geron Christian at left tackle to grow with Dwayne Haskins. Thompson is in a logjam at a position which includes Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Samaje Perine and rookie, Bryce Love. Before his injury as a rookie, Perine secured 22 receptions. Thompson would have to beat out two of those four players and his roster spot isn't secure. Thompson will also be a free agent after the season and is 28 years old.

Williams and Thompson have $4.5 million in Dead money if they are traded and the cap situation in Washington is tight, but Houston is sitting pretty and could alleviate some of their cap issues.

Due to the fact that Washington has already spent their 2nd round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, it would be hard to convince them to part with a 1st rounder in 2020. Houston could instead, ask for their 3rd in 2020 and push off the first rounder until 2021. Jay Gruden is playing with house money as he goes into a season with a rookie quarterback and the previously mentioned record as head coach of 35-44-1, and would undoubtedly roll the dice on picks he may never see regardless. The question would be if Bruce Allen and Doug Williams would sign off. My guess would be yes as they both know that a lockout is on the horizon for 2021.

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Will the Astros ever give Joey Loperfido a chance to fix the black hole at first base? Composite Getty Image.

So how long do you suppose the Astros will cling to the ludicrous notion that Jose Abreu will return to being a sustainably decent hitter (much less a good hitter)? The All-Star break? The trade deadline July 30? The day the Astros are eliminated from the playoff race? End of the season? End of his contract at the end of next season? Maybe they sign him to a two-year extension?

Since rejoining the team Abreu has played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. He has seven hits in 42 at bats for a .167 batting average. That’s only not horrible in comparison to the sub-pathetic .099 mark Abreu had when hiatus time arrived. Since returning, Abreu has walked once. If you remember or are familiar with Susan Powter you know what comes next. STOP THE INSANITY!

Kyle Tucker’s absence obviously punches a big hole in the Astros’ lineup. Still, that regularly running out Jeremy Pena in the cleanup or fifth spot in the lineup doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, is ridiculous! Pena has been abysmal for the last month. May 11 he put up his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. In 29 games since, Pena has added one more homer with an anemic on-base percentage of .238. Not batting average, OBP. Yuck. All teams solicit All-Star votes for non-worthy guys. Pena plays in the same league as Gunnar Henderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Corey Seager, and Anthony Volpe. Hyping Pena for the All-Star game is plain ol’ silly.

Jon Singleton ever slotting in the lineup fourth or fifth, sigh. He of one homer and 28 strikeouts in his last 79 at bats. It’s just a sad state of affairs that no one below Pena or Singleton in the lineup should obviously be higher in the lineup. Mauricio Dubon, Victor Caratini, Trey Cabbage are all bottom third of the lineup if in the lineup type guys. Chas McCormick seemingly losing almost all of his hitting ability has hurt. Yainer Diaz stinking for much more of the season to date than he’s been good has hurt.

The refusal to try Joey Loperfido at first base is somewhere from perplexing to stupid. Look, Loperfido is not an elite prospect. His poor contact skills may doom him from becoming a quality regular. But find out! He struck out a bunch in his first taste but also hit .333. The low upside of the Abreu-Singleton combo is obvious. Evidently to just about all but Astros’ decision makers. Going with Trey Cabbage over Loperfido in the outfield also underwhelms.

Chasing down the Mariners?

It could all still turn for the better, but the Astros are at increasing risk of fading to oblivion behind Seattle in the American League West race. They deserve to be 31-38. They have a losing record at home, they have a losing record on the road. They have a losing record in day games, they have a losing record in night games. They are 7-14 in games against left-handed starting pitchers, they are 24-24 (hey, .500, yippee!) vs. right-handed starters. It would take a serious collapse to fall entirely out of the Wild Card race before the trade deadline, but the Astros are flirting with danger there too. They have to leapfrog several teams to get to the third Wild Card position, currently held by the Minnesota Twins. This doesn’t seem to be a good weekend to gain ground on them. Not that A.J. Hinch’s Detroit Tigers visiting Minute Maid Park this weekend are anything special, though in Friday night’s series opener the Astros face the arguably best starting pitcher in the big leagues this season (Tarik Skubal). But the Twins have four games at home against the lowly Oakland A’s.

If Minnesota is not to overtake Kansas City and Cleveland to win the AL Central, you know Carlos Correa would love to make the playoffs at his ex-team’s expense. Wednesday Correa banged out the first five-hit game of his career. It’s pretty amazing that Jose Altuve has never had a five-hit game given how great a hitter he’s been and the relatively few walks he’s drawn. Sunday in Anaheim, Altuve racked up his 39th four-hit game. Remember, last September, Altuve hit five home runs over seven innings that overlapped two games against the Texas Rangers.

George Springer is the lone Astro ever to rack up six hits in a game, doing so at Oakland in 2018. So far this month, Springer is six for 40. Springer has two seasons left after this one on the six-year 150 million dollar contract he signed with Toronto. At 34 years old he is playing as if washed up. 2023 was the worst season of Springer’s career and he has fallen off a cliff from there thus far in 2024. Springer is batting .198 with his OPS at a sickly .582.

There is only one player in the modern era (1900 forward) of Major League Baseball to amass seven hits in a nine-inning game. In 1975 Rennie Stennett went seven for seven at Wrigley Field in a Pittsburgh Pirates 22-0 obliteration of the Chicago Cubs. The “Bleacher Bums” must have had fun that day.

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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