Sean Pendergast

Setting the Odds On the Jadeveon Clowney Contract Saga

Jadeveon Clowney is likely to be franchise tagged in the next two weeks... then what?
Jadeveon Clowney is likely to be franchise tagged in the next two weeks... then what? Photo by Eric Sauseda
It feels like just yesterday that the Houston Texans made Jadeveon Clowney the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and yet here were are, five years into Clowney's NFL career, with three Pro bowls in his back pocket, trying to figure out what the future holds for the Clowney-Texans  marriage. In all likelihood, the next anniversary gift in the marriage comes in the next two weeks, with the beginning of the franchise tag period starting today.

For many of us regular shmoes out there, we would see the franchise tag as the greatest gift ever, because a one year guarantee for millions and millions of dollars does not suck... to MOST of us. To an NFL player who was drafted first overall five years ago, especially one who's sustained multiple injuries like Clowney has, the franchise tag is a road block to even GREATER riches from a guaranteed multi-year contract extension.

So let's place our bets! How do we think the Clowney saga plays out over the next couple weeks, and even the subsequent months and year? Here is now my sports book would take action on the various scenarios:

Will Jadeveon Clowney be franchise tagged before the March 5, 2019 deadline?

YES -2000
NO +1500

I think there is almost zero debt that the franchise tag is the direction things are going, especially with national media like Peter King now leaking perfectly times (if you're Texans' management) stories about Clowney lacking the "worker bee" habits of the immortal J.J. Watt the team so desperately seeks.

If he is franchise tagged, will Jadeveon Clowney be franchise tagged as a DE or LB?

DE -150
LB +120

Before we assess this one, a couple of administrative notes on the difference between the two, thanks to my guy Troy over at TexansCap:

It's worth noting that Clowney was initially playing the 2018 season under the fifth year option on his rookie deal under the less lucrative linebacker designation. However, after assessing the nature of his usage during the season, the team appropriately bumped him up to a defensive end designation. This would seem to be a foreshadowing of how they will tag him in the upcoming days, but who knows? This might be the most underrated gauge as to how negotiations are going. "Defensive end" might mean that things are progressing well, and the team is playing nice, while "linebacker" might mean "EFF THIS GUY." Again, only the folks behind the scenes know.

If Jadeveon Clowney is franchise tagged, will the tag be exclusive or non exclusive?


Again, getting an administrative note out of the way, for those of you that don't dork out on the salary cap, here is the difference between the two:

Non-exclusive tags are most commonly used. It means a team will pay the tagged player no less than the average of the five highest salaries at the player’s position, or 120 percent of the player’s cap number from the previous season, whichever is greater. The player is allowed to negotiate with other teams, but his current team can match any offer sheet. If a player's current team declines to match another team's offer, it will be awarded two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Exclusive tags are more rare. Only Broncos linebacker Von Miller (2016) and Saints quarterback Drew Brees (2012) have received the exclusive tag since 2012. The salary is calculated the same for players issued non-exclusive tags. The only difference is that the tagged player cannot negotiate with other teams.
I can't imagine the Texans would use a tag that would preclude them from getting two first round picks in a trade for Clowney.

Will Jadeveon Clowney be traded before Week 1 of the 2019 season?

YES +750
NO -1500

The question here is "Was the Khalil Mack trade an outlier, or is this the growing trend, with teams willing to move players on the cusp of gargantuan salary increases for draft picks?" I doubt that a deal of proper value shows itself before the draft, and if it drifts into the summer, then moving Clowney for picks means you're deriving NO benefit from that asset in 2019. At least a trade before this year's draft presumably nets you a high pick (or picks) in 2019.

Will Jadeveon Clowney sign a long term contract with the Texans done before the season?

YES +450
NO -300

I think there's a better chance that THIS happens than a trade market formulating, but I still see it as a long shot. I think the Texans are hellbent on going year to year for as long as they can with Clowney. Sooooo.....

If he is under a franchise tag when training camp begins, will Clowney hold out?

YES -800
NO +550

Clowney has always been a good soldier, but if he wants a new deal, holding out for training camp (or at least part of it) is his only recourse.

Over/under on guaranteed money in Clowney's eventual long term deal:

OVER $71.5 million
UNDER $71.5 million

On this, I have no doubt — if he's healthy, and his day comes to get a new contract, Clowney is going to get paid and paid big.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast