TALKING TEXANS

Waiting to extend Clowney is the right thing to do

The Texans may have to decide between J.J. Watt (left) and Jadeveon Clowney. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Recent chatter around the Houston Texans is centered on a new contract for Jadeveon Clowney, especially now that Benardrick McKinney got his last week. The latest word is that Clowney may not get a new deal done before the start of the regular season and GM Brian Gaine doesn’t negotiate contacts past that point. Essentially, there’s a ticking clock on these negotiations and it’s not looking good for this year.

I’m OK with just folding up negotiations and waiting until the season is over. Clowney may be an impact player, but guys making the kind of money he’s looking for have the stats to back it up. That includes games played per year. A top tier pass rusher makes about a million dollars per sack. That would make Clowney worth what they just paid McKinney; $10 million a year. But he’s not just a pass rusher, just like J.J. Watt when he was playing healthy. His value across the board is probably equal to the $12 million he’s making this year.

But the Texans might want to choose between Watt and Clowney. Watt averages about $16 million and still has four years left on his deal and since they’ve already invested in him then Jadeveon will be playing in his last year, right? Wrong. What if the Man of the Year misses another season to injury? He only has $2 million in dead money if the Texans part ways after this season. That’s money that could be freed up for a younger player like Clowney.

It might not even matter if Watt plays a full season. He’s coming up on 30 and has missed most of the last two seasons with injury. It might be a wise move to simply swap the two players out after this season and let someone else take on J.J.’s injury history. I know that’s not a popular thought, but the Texans need a lot of help if they are going to stay competitive in the coming years. If Clowney shows he can stay on the field then youth is the way to go.

They need to be prepared for free agency and carrying a high cost for both players in 2019 won’t give them a lot of wiggle room elsewhere. Brian Gaine will need to keep all his moves in front of him from this moment forward if he wants to keep plenty of room under the salary cap. Hopefully he will put a pin in the talks for this year and pick it up when Clowney’s value is a little more definitive.  

What happens next may not be popular but I will be all right waiting until next year to find out.

 

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It's all systems go for the Houston Texans! Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images.

It was 2002 and the city of Houston was rewarded with the NFL's 32nd franchise. I remember the newspaper special section with all the info points on the new team. There was even a full page graphic explaining how the grass plates were constructed. (Side Note: We should've known right then and there it was going to be disastrous!) There was a level of excitement unseen since the Rockets won a title, I'd assume. People were wearing “32, Houston” jerseys. There was more Battle Red, Deep Steel Blue, and Liberty White around town than a Fourth of July day parade.

The next time the city was excited about Texans football involved the Gary Kubiak days of making the playoffs. After that, Bill O'Brien hung a few division title banners as well. That's when the lull came. It all came crashing down, swiftly and mightily. The death of Bob McNair may have played a part in things deteriorating so quickly. Whether blame is placed here or there, changes needed to be made. Cal McNair was seen as incompetent. In comes Nick Caserio. He had a mess to clean up. The last two seasons were awful, but necessary. After back-to-back one-and-done coaches, Caserio has hired his guy.

Enter DeMeco Ryans. The former Texans great linebacker was the 49ers defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He took over a great defense and kept it going. From the moment he stepped on campus at Alabama, he commanded a different level of respect. Not only was he good, but he was a leader. Nicknamed “Cap” because he was a captain on and off the field. That followed him to Houston. His presence was felt everywhere he went. It was known before his career ended that he'd most likely be a coach one day.

This moment in time right now is giving 2002, Kubiak playoffs, and O'Brien playoff vibes but amplified. Why? Because one of this franchise's own has come home. Ryans was the most desired candidate this coaching cycle. Sean Payton may have had the bigger name, but Ryans was the one the Broncos tried to go back after, then settled on Payton. Teams he turned down had to move along and find other candidates to fill their vacancies. HE CHOSE HOUSTON! Nothing like feeling desired and being chosen!

I believe DeMeco will turn this franchise around and make them a contender. It's very rare that you have a star athlete turned sought after coach and NOBODY has a bad word to say about him! Social media has turned things into a 12-hour news cycle. Yet you've NEVER heard or seen DeMeco involved in any foolishness. He's been a model citizen, while also maintaining a high level of play and now coaching. When people respect you for your football acumen AND your character, that says a lot. Whoever said nice guys finish last obviously hasn't met DeMeco.

Armed with some cap space, draft capital, a capable GM, and ownership seeking a fresh start, DeMeco is set up to succeed. It's up to him, and Caserio, to finish what was started two years ago. Currently, the house on Kirby has a few more improvements to make. Some paint, redoing the floors, new landscaping, and new furniture. The kitchens and bathrooms are done. It needs the final touch. DeMeco is that final touch.

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