Waiting to extend Clowney is the right thing to do
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.