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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Yordan Alvarez came up big in Game 5. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Astros can win the pennant Friday night. Can't dangle the carrot any closer in front of the face than that. Taking the last two games at Fenway Park has the Astros in excellent position, but any notion that a third American League championship in five years is now inevitable, is silly. The Astros are probably 80 percent or better to advance, but of course the Red Sox could win games six and seven at Minute Maid Park à la the Nationals in the World Series two years ago. The Astros had all the momentum after winning three straight in D.C., came home for the coronation, and pfffft. You have momentum...until you don't. It's nothing to bank on. The Red Sox had all the "mo" after clobbering the Astros in games two and three of this AL championship series. Then Jose Altuve crushed the eighth inning tying home run in game four, ahead of the seven run volcanic eruption of a ninth inning. Nine more Astro runs later in game five, and here we are.

One key distinction that makes the Astros hand look stronger up 3-2 now than vs. the Nats, the Red Sox don't have Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer ready to pitch. Like Framber Valdez vs. Chris Sale in game five, game six is another starting pitching rematch. Alvin native Nathan Eovaldi grossly outpitched Luis Garcia in game two. We'll see if Sox manager Alex Cora winds up regretting even more using Eovaldi to start the fateful game four ninth inning. Eovaldi only threw 24 pitches, but three nights later we'll see what and how much he has in the tank.

After pitching horribly against the White Sox and then the Red Sox, and then citing a sore knee, Luis Garcia is his own huge question mark. So was Valdez before Wednesday spinning one of the great postseason pitching performances in Astros' history. Framber was awful in each of his first two postseason starts, absolutely magnificent in cruising through eight innings in game five. Should the Sox force Game Seven, Valdez certainly is a relief option on two days rest. Jose Urquidy would start, opposite Eduardo Rodriguez in a game three rematch.

Valdez and the Astros hope his next outing is Tuesday night in game one of the World Series. Ideally, at Minute Maid Park against the Atlanta Braves. Alas, the defending champion Dodgers remain alive and kicking, having won their fourth do or die game already in this postseason to send the National League Championship Series back to Atlanta. Now, if somehow we knew as fact that the Astros are going to win the World Series, I'd estimate approximately 99 percent of Astros' fans would prefer to beat L.A. Since we don't know that the Astros are going to win it all, getting the Braves would be more favorable for the Astros, if for no other reason than the Astros would get home-field advantage. Should the Braves make it, among other factoids Charlie Morton would be in his third World Series with three different teams in the last five seasons (Astros in 2017, Rays last year, Braves this). If the Braves can close out the Dodgers Saturday, Morton is Atlanta's likely game one starter at MMP. Provided the Astros are the AL Champs of course.

Watt a matchup for the Texans

The Texans play at Arizona Sunday. Yeah, and? You imagine that J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins find the two team's current situations amusing? The Texans are a 1-5 stink bomb that will keep on stinking. The Cardinals are 6-0 and an emerging Super Bowl contender. While Deshaun Watson continues collecting about 600 thousand dollars per week to do nothing (and waiting to become a Miami Dolphin?), Kyler Murray has made the leap to upper echelon NFL quarterback.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Decisions, decisions. Astros-Red Sox game 6 or Rockets home opener vs. Thunder. Tough call?

2. The Rockets will regularly be overmatched and probably lose 55 games or more again this season. At least they have young talent to offer some hope. The Texans presently have near nothing.

3. Best 2021 Astros' postseason journey signature food: Bronze-Atlanta/Los Angeles, anything? Silver-Chicago, deep dish pizza Gold-Boston, lobster roll

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