Clowney hasn't signed his franchise tag and won't be present Monday for the start of the Texans' voluntary offseason program. He's hoping for a long-term agreement before the July 15 deadline, with the threat of a prolonged holdout if he doesn't receive his desired contract. The Texans have plenty of cap space, but they may be hesitant to pay Clowney as an elite pass rusher given his career total of 29 sacks in 62 games. He does have a strong track record defending the run, and 18.5 of those sacks occurred the past two seasons.
In the event that the Texans can't re-sign Clowney (the team's stated preference is to bring him back) in advance of free agency, they can match any offer sheet he receives, or alternatively acquire two first-round draft picks if they decline to do so. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he logged 47 tackles and nine sacks in 15 games.
There appears to be a mutual desire for Clowney to continue his career with Houston. "Of course, I want to come back," Clowney said. "I promise to the Texans and whoever else is watching that I'm going to be a much better, improved player next season. I haven't been thinking about a contract. If I come back and play well like I know I'm going to, contract will take care of itself." The 25-year-old linebacker/defensive end has overcome the durability concerns that dogged him early in his career and has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls. He's been a disruptive force, registering 29 sacks and five forced fumbles over the last four seasons, so the team is motivated to see him continue that type of performance in a Texans uniform.
Clowney recorded five tackles in Saturday's 21-7 wild-card loss to the Colts.
After two injury-marred seasons to start his career, Clowney has established himself as a legitimate IDP threat. He's recorded 18.5 sacks, forced three fumbles, recovered five fumbles and scored two touchdowns over the last two seasons. As an unrestricted free agent in 2019, Clowney will demand a handsome salary, one that the Texans are expected to pay.
Clowney recorded eight tackles (five solo), including a sack, a pass defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in Sunday's loss the Philadelphia.
Clowney made one of the biggest plays of the game Sunday, strip-sacking Nick Foles and recovering the fumble himself. The sack brings his season total to nine, a half-sack short of his career high. Looking ahead, the Texans take on the Jaguars in Week 17.
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