The Houston Texans had a disappointing finish to follow up their stellar 11-5 season. The Indianapolis Colts dealt them a season-ending blow during Wild Card weekend as they lost 21-7.
Disappointing is a word that was once used to describe Houston’s pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney during his first two seasons. Such scrutiny was thrown in his direction because he was deemed a superstar so early in his life.
Clowney was a man-child in high school as he was the top-rated player coming out of high school in 2011. He lived up to the hype at South Carolina as he made bone-chilling plays in opposing teams’ backfields. None more exciting than this:
Once he was done terrorizing in college, Clowney was drafted first overall by the Texans in 2014. However, he was much maligned during those previously mentioned first two seasons. Inconsistency and injuries plagued him, causing many to wonder if he could reach his superstar potential.
Well, to keep it short, Clowney is not a bust. He’s rewarded the Texans with stellar play as the last three seasons he’s been named a Pro Bowler.
Yet, there is still a level of skepticism that exists with Clowney and rightfully so.
The edge rusher has not registered a double-digit sack season. Also, he still isn’t as consistent as he should be for a guy just wrapping up his fifth season as a pro.
Despite those hiccups, the Texans have to pay Clowney.
It will probably take $15 to $18 million to get him to ink his deal with the team that drafted him. Players like Melvin Ingram ($16M) and Olivier Vernon ($17M) get paid that much who mirror Clowney statistically.
Here are three reasons why the Texans should pay Clowney:
One Team’s Trash is Another’s Treasure
There are plenty of other teams that would jump on the opportunity to pay Clowney.
The Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, and New York Jets are three teams that instantly stick out as teams in desperate need of the services of Clowney. They also have more money, in cap space, than Houston who has $67 million in cap space.
The Browns have Myles Garrett who is heading to his first Pro Bowl. He generated 13.5 sacks, but he needs help. The next player on the team had just 5.5 sacks.
Cleveland’s got the excitement on offense with Baker Mayfield. Adding Clowney could provide more balance, which would translate to more wins as they look to make a playoff push in 2019.
Next, not a single player in Indy accumulated 10 sacks. Clowney alone hasn’t reached that mark himself, but they could use him. They could hurt the Texans by signing their guy while also getting rid of a pass rusher in the AFC South for Andrew Luck.
Finally, the Jets were another team that desperately needed more pressure on the passer. They too didn’t have one guy register double-digit sacks. They could add one in the draft, but it never hurts to have more than one.
Sooner than later is the moniker the Texans should utter when discussing Clowney. Otherwise, he might walk and continue flourishing elsewhere.
It’s Prime Time
Speaking of Clowney flourishing, that process has already started for him in Houston. As mentioned before, he has made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons. But that is only the beginning of the kind of player he is morphing into.
Clowney gets to the quarterback as he has 24.5 sacks the last three years. If he isn’t getting to the passer in time, he makes sure his presence is felt. The South Carolina native has more quarterback hits (21) than fellow Pro Bowlers Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter, and Melvin Ingram.
He isn’t just a one trick pony either.
Clowney shows up in the run game as he blows up potential running lanes for backs. He makes it hard to get around the edge with his speed and force. Not to mention, he can put things into his own hands in the backfield with tackles for loss (TFL).
In the last two seasons, Clowney has the most TFL with 37.
To cap it all off, Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded his 2018 campaign with a score of 89.5, placing him at 10th among edge rushers.
Not to mention, Clowney will only be 26 next Fall as well. It’s a no brainer to keep a guy that is young and trending in the right direction.
A New Era
It’s no secret that defense wins championships. The old days of holding a team under 21 points to secure a win are over. Now, it’s about building a bend, but don’t break defense with game-wreckers sprinkled in the unit.
The Chiefs-Pats and Rams-Saints contests were high-scoring affairs the first time around, but hidden in those games were timely defensive stands. It showed again in their rematches in the conference championship games.
It starts up front with the pass rush in this new era in the NFL.
The Patriots show it sporadically, but the Chiefs, Rams, and Saints were playing this past weekend due in large part to their pass rushers.
The three-headed monster of Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Chris Jones helped Kansas City lead the league in sacks with 52. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has a bowling ball in Aaron Donald who only led the league with 20.5 sacks (more than the Oakland Raiders who only had 13). Lastly, in New Orleans, Cam Jordan seems to get better with age as he finished with more than 10 sacks for the second straight season.
Not to be forgotten is Trey Flowers in New England. He can wreck opposing offenses’ schemes too.
Clowney is virtually on the cusp of becoming that defensive dynamo everyone thought he would be. By paying him, the Texans would have one of the best pass rushing duos with him and JJ Watt.
At one point, it would have made sense not paying Clowney. Back in 2015, he seemed to be in the sunken place while Whitney Mercilus was providing Watt the help he needed. Injuries have slowed Mercilus down while giving Clowney the playing time he needed all along.
Clowney still struggles with carrying over momentum from a big week to the next game, but the arrow is pointing up for him.
In a world of buying and selling stock, a savvy investor wouldn’t sell on something that is clearly getting ready to reward them handsomely.
So, why would the Texans let their most prized possession walk right out the door this summer?
Houston needs to pay Clowney and reap the benefits of their investment.