On Monday, the deadline for teams to reach long-term contract agreements with their franchise-tagged players will arrive and by the sound of it, it will come and go without Texans edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney signing a new contract to keep him in Houston for the long run.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle, the two sides aren't expected to reach an agreement before Monday's deadline, meaning Clowney is likely to spend the season playing under the tag, which is worth roughly $15.9 million. Clowney is also expected to sit out "a major portion" of training camp, but he is not expected to miss any games, according to the Chronicle's report.
It's worth noting the Texans don't even have a permanent general manager at the moment, which could be making long-term contract negotiations tricky. They there's a chance the Texans will remain without a general manager throughout the upcoming season, with coach Bill O'Brien, executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, and the scouting department splitting up GM duties.and , but As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported at the time,
That could be impacting their ability to sign Clowney to a new contract. Clowney's injury history also could be playing a role. Although he's stayed most healthy over the past three seasons, appearing in 45 of 48 possible games, Clowney has dealt with knee injuries throughout his career, which caused him to miss a significant portion of his rookie season back in 2014. Furthermore, while Clowney has been an impactful player, he doesn't quite have the kind of sack numbers that most elite pass rushers generate. He's never eclipsed the 10-sack mark in a single season.
That said, Clowney is a special player who plays one of the most important positions in football. He graded out as Pro Football Focus' ninth-best edge defender last year. He's also only 26 years old. If he plays out the upcoming season under the tag and posts similar numbers (18.5 sacks over the past two seasons), he should get a long-term contract from somebody. Of course, the Texans could always tag him again, but by that point, they should have a new general manager who might want to make a decision regarding Clowney's long-term future.
Either way, the 2019 season should be the most important season of Clowney's career as he chases a lucrative long-term contract.