The Houston Texans are optimistic they can retain edge rushers Jadeveon Clowney, who is a key part of their defense.
NFL teams continue to put a premium on pass rushers and the Houston Texans are no different. That’s exactly why they’re pushing hard to retain defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the long haul.
Recent comments from Texans general manager Brian Gaine should give Texans fans with plenty of excitement. Gaine told reporters at a pre-draft news conference that he is “optimistic” the sides can agree on a contract extension. Clowney, who was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 Draft is slated to make $12 million in the fifth and final season of his rookie contract.
When asked specifically about what made Clowney so valuable to the Texans, Gaine specifically mentioned his height, weight, speed and production. In particular, his 9.5 sacks last season were crucial for a Texans defense that gave up an average of 21.1 points per game last season.
Locking Clowney up for the long haul would also give the Texans some security in the event that J.J. Watt cannot fully recover from his knee and back issues. Watt plans to be back in time to participate in the Texans’ OTAs, but he won’t push things if his body doesn’t feel right. It’s fair to wonder whether or not Watt will ever regain the form that arguably made him the NFL’s top defensive end just a few short seasons ago.
Irrespective of Watt’s status, signing Clowney is going to be expensive for the Texans. He’ll likely be looking for a deal that will offer a significant raise on his 2018 salary. Houston may try to limit their investment in Clowney due to his own injury history, but they will struggle to suppress his market value. NFL edge rushers are too scarce for the Texans to avoid paying a premium to retain Clowney.
The Texans may try to push negotiations ahead with Clowney to provide the team some clarity prior to the upcoming Draft. The ability to secure his services for the long haul would certainly push defensive end down the team’s list of draft needs.
It’s unlikely the team would use a high draft pick on a defensive end due to the presence of Clowney and Watt, but tying the former South Carolina star down to a new contract would certainly increase the team’s comfort level with the position.