Things are getting ugly between the Texans and star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as Houston is messing with the man’s money.
The Texans are making the former No. 1 overall pick play on a franchise tag this season and also tagged him as a linebacker, not a defensive end – which could end up costing Clowney nearly $2 million.
If things get Le’Veon Bell-level ugly between the Texans and Clowney in the next few months, and if Houston gets off to a rocky start, Clowney will immediately become the hottest name on the trade market as the calendar flips to October.
Several teams that could be in the mix for Clowney if he does become available are the Eagles, Jets, and Patriots – all for different reasons.
We start with Philadelphia.
The Birds saw Jordan Hicks shoot down to Arizona, and they traded Michael Bennett to the Pats. While they made a strong move in signing Malik Johnson, Eagles GM Howie Roseman has always been big on depth at key positions. The Eagles obviously value the defensive line, and as the Texans took advantage of last year – Clowney is able to play at linebacker due to his exceptional athleticism.
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Philadelphia is expected to be huge players in the trade market (which has become increasingly interesting in the NFL in recently years) due to having just over $21 million in salary cap space available. Clowney has a cap hit of $15.9 million.
As for the Jets … we’ve outlined here in the past several weeks how we think the Jets could be a surprise playoff team this season. But we’re mostly high on the steps their offense will take. Defensively, there are still some huge gaps on this team as New York is currently relying on Quinnen Williams to be the team’s defensive anchor in his rookie season. Clowney would give the Jets defense a true identity for the first time since Darrelle Revis’ first stint with Gang Green.
If New York is hovering around .500 in October, expect them to also be big players in the trade market. The Jets have $21.23 million remaining in cap space.
And finally, we get to the Patriots – who are always good for a blockbuster every few years at the deadline (Aqib Talib, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jamie Collins).
The Pats’ biggest loss on defense this offseason was watching Trey Flowers sign in Detroit. Bill Belichick also values defensive line play higher than possibly any position as he’s used first or second round draft picks on D-lineman seven times since he took over as HC of the NEP.
There is also the connection that the Patriots front office has with the Houston front office to keep an eye on here, but there is the possibility that those ties have been significantly damaged due to the Nick Caserio scuttlebutt earlier this offseason.