One of the vital intriguing NFL contract conditions of 2019 includes the Texans and gifted edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who’s getting the franchise tag and never the top-market deal he’s searching for – a minimum of not but.
Clowney, 26, is worthy of an eight-figure contract. However his efficiency will not be but on the stage of Khalil Mack or Aaron Donald, the NFL’s highest-paid defenders, and a long-term deal signed this 12 months doubtless would mirror that. This is the reason the franchise tag is smart for each the participant and the workforce, particularly since Houston has the wage cap room to soak up the tender quantity.
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Clowney has been thought-about one of the athletically gifted gamers since he entered the league because the No. 1 general decide in 2014. Due largely to accidents, he struggled to fulfill sky-high expectations in his first couple seasons, however he has since developed into a wonderful run-defender and an bettering pass-rusher.
Houston might be content material to have him play beneath the one-year tender, until he surprisingly agrees to a deal value lower than $20 million per 12 months earlier than Monday’s four p.m. ET deadline. The rumblings are the workforce needs to see one other season of excellent well being and elite-level sack manufacturing (in Donald/Mack/Von Miller 15-plus territory) earlier than it commits to a long-term deal at top-market charges.
I do not see the Texans being able to have Clowney be a part of the $23 million-per-year stratosphere of Mack and Donald, or maybe even Miller’s $19 million per 12 months, particularly when the Texans’ finest defensive participant, J.J. Watt, is incomes $16 million per 12 months. Watt produced 16 sacks and 7 compelled fumbles final season. (Clowney had 9 sacks and one compelled fumble.)
And primarily based on private expertise, I cannot fault the Texans and coach Invoice O’Brien for eager to see extra manufacturing and good well being from Clowney – who has performed a full, 16-game schedule simply as soon as, in 2017 – earlier than giving him an enormous contract with huge ensures.
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As Vikings GM in 1998, I was in a considerably comparable place with working again Robert Smith. We had positioned a transition tag on our main rusher, giving us the precise to match any supply whereas guaranteeing him the common wage of the 10 highest-paid backs. (We did not have the franchise tag out there to position on Smith. That might have tendered him on the common of the highest 5 at his place.)
I would have appreciated to see Smith have one other large 12 months, as he was coming off his first 1,000-yard season and had not but been a Professional Bowl choice. Smith had been harm early in his profession, though his ACL accidents had been extra critical than the knee points Clowney has had.
I needed to match a proposal from Seattle that might make Smith the highest-paid again within the league. Of all of the offers I ever negotiated, I was most nervous about signing this contract.
Fortuitously, It labored out effectively for each Smith and the workforce. He produced two Professional Bowl seasons, together with 2000, when he led the NFC in dashing.
The franchise tag has all the time been a difficult topic and mechanism to navigate. It enriches an elite participant but typically precipitates angst amongst gamers and brokers who react negatively to being denied free company and potential large ensures on a long-term deal.
Some gamers play out the 12 months beneath the franchise tag and hope for a long-term deal whereas others battle the tag. For Le’Veon Bell final 12 months, being hit with the franchise tag for the second consecutive 12 months propelled him to a season-long holdout.
Clowney is coming off a $13 million wage beneath his fifth-year choice. He did not play the Mack card and refuse to report final 12 months, so I do not count on him to show down the one-year franchise tender from Houston. As Bell is studying, a participant cannot make up for the wages misplaced from lacking a season. And with Clowney’s damage historical past, no-showing the offseason program and coaching camp will not assist him have that signature season to show he’s worthy of a Mack- or Donald-like contract.
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This a risk-reward recreation. Given Watt’s damage historical past, the Texans couldn’t afford to let Clowney hit free company and threat shedding a premier participant in his prime. It helps Houston to be a pair years away from having to pay high quarterback cash to Deshaun Watson, and by then, Watt’s profession is perhaps winding down. So Clowney is reasonably priced for the quick and long run.
If I had been Clowney’s agent, I would battle arduous for the long-term deal earlier than the July 15 deadline. However with a proposal value greater than $20 million per 12 months doubtless not forthcoming at this level, taking part in beneath the one-year tender will work in Clowney’s profit if he has an amazing 2019 season.
That can make it simpler for the Texans to pony up top-market cash for a younger star who can signal a long-term deal in 2020 and nonetheless get one other profitable contract in 5 extra years.
Jeff Diamond is a former president of the Titans and former vp/basic supervisor of the Vikings. He was chosen NFL Government of the Yr in 1998. Diamond is at present a enterprise and sports activities marketing consultant who additionally does broadcast and on-line media work. He makes talking appearances to company/civic teams and school lessons on negotiation and sports activities enterprise/sports activities administration. He’s the previous chairman and CEO of The Ingram Group. Observe Jeff on Twitter: @jeffdiamondNFL.