The Houston Texans have placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker and pass rushing specialist Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney, who was considered a generational talent coming out of South Carolina, played out his full rookie deal with the Texans without an extension. In that span, he's logged 29 sacks, including at least nine in each of his past two seasons. Last year, his nine sacks came opposite J.J. Watt, who finished with 16 sacks.
According to The Houston Chronicle's John McClain, the Texans intend to negotiate a long-term deal with Clowney, and are using the tag as a precautionary measure.
Per McClain, the tag is also the non-exclusive tag, which means that Houston can match any offer sheet that Clowney is offered in free agency, or they can take two first-round picks.
"Today, we have placed the franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney, but our goal is to continue to work with his representation on a long-term contract," said Texans general manager Brian Gaine. "This gives us both an opportunity to continue to do so."
The Texans had 43 sacks last season, tied for 11th in the NFL, and they have the 23rd pick in the draft after going 11-5 last year. While their defense has been solid, the focus will be on the offensive line in the draft, so they undoubtedly would like to keep their defense intact heading into next year.