With news emerging today that Houston star Jadeveon Clowney met with Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores and other members of the organisation’s brass, it appears nearly certain the pass-rusher won’t be suiting up for the Texans in week 1.
The 26-year-old was one of the best run stoppers on a top-three run defense last season; has had 18.5 sacks the past two seasons and has made the last three Pro Bowls.
It would appear, however, that his relationship with Houston has deteriorated on the back of a prolonged contract dispute.
Complicating matters is the fact that Clowney was franchise-tagged by Houston back in March of this year, and so far has not signed the tag. Technically, the Texans can’t trade him until he does, which, given he recently fired his long-term agent, is looking like an increasingly impossible scenario.
The figurative ball is firmly in Clowney’s court; if he doesn’t want to be traded somewhere, he simply can just not sign the tag and wait for the Texans to find an attractive partner.
Handing even more power to the 26-year-old 2016 All Pro is the fact that the franchise tag rules stipulate that any potential destination wouldn’t be allowed to negotiate a long-term deal with him until after the 2019 season.
Basically, if Clowney is prepared to forego some money (he’ll lose roughly $940,000 for every game that he misses) he can effectively behave as a free agent and force Houston to send him where he wants to go.
So, who should be making the biggest pitches? Let’s check out the 5 teams who’ll be frantically making calls to the 6 ft 5 former number 1 overall pick.
Given Clowney reportedly met with the Dolphins last week, this one won’t come as much surprise.
Even acknowledging that – in anyone’s language – this is a slightly bizarre move from a team clearly in the midst of a good old-fashioned tank, Miami are both willing and apparently able to get a deal done.
The Dolphins have two picks in each of the second, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh rounds in the 2020 draft, so convincing the Texans shouldn’t be a problem. Wide receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Kiko Alons are likely to be on the table as well.
Convincing Clowney, on the other hand, may be an issue.
If winning is his goal then it’s fair to say the ‘Fins are the rank outsiders. If money is the sticking point, well, who the heck else do they have to pay?
Currently sitting at least $26 million under the salary cap, the ‘Fins have some room to manoeuvre.
New HC Brian Flores was apparently uber-impressive and outlined a definitive plan for the future in his meeting with Clowney and, right now, the Dolphins seem to be in the box seat.
The Seahawks are reportedly right near the top of Clowney’s list, and rightly so.
Imagine the fear this front 7 would spark in opposing QBs:
Seattle are a team with playoff aspirations and, despite the strength of that defensive line, did lose Frank Clark – who led the team with 13 sacks last season – in April, which indicates they are in the market for a pass-rusher.
Making things slightly tricky is that with the franchise tag situation, teams need permission from the league to talk to Clowney. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Seahawks did not have that permission.
According to Over The Cap, Seattle has $20,101,498 in effective cap space, but could increase that to something in the vicinity of $24million by releasing veterans such as Barkevious Mingo.
While Seattle doesn’t have a huge amount to offer in terms of players, the Texans may find a high pick and a back-up RB – C.J. Prosise, Travis Homer, Bo Scarbrough and J.D. McKissic would all be on the table – enough to get a deal done.
Philly is reportedly on Clowney’s short-list of options, but it’s going to take a bit of work to make it happen.
Early reports are that 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard may be on the table, which hasn’t exactly gone down well with the fan-base.
Apart from that, any trade is likely to involve guys like Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jordan Howard, plus a considerable amount of draft capital.
Clowney would no doubt fit in well alongside Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Daeshon Hall and Josh Sweat, but the Eagles have a young pass-rushing corps and may feel that Clowney is superfluous to their longterm needs.
Carson Wentz’s big extension also means Philadelphia may be a little hamstrung financially moving forward, with Over The Cap projecting an effective cap space amount of $18,708,531.
Frankly, this doesn’t really seem like a move the Eagles will make. The circumstances of Clowney’s acrimony with the Texans are slightly concerning, particularly for a team like Philly which prides itself on ‘culture’.
We’ve been wrong before, though.
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