If the Texans can’t negotiate a new long-term contract with former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, they may use the franchise tag on him.
If that happens, there will be a dispute about what position he plays, since the tag for defensive ends is higher than the tag for outside linebackers.
But they may have taken a step toward heading off that potential dispute.
According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Texans gave Clowney a $1.005 million bonus on the next-to-last day of the season to resolve a debate over the amount of his fifth-year option.
In the 2018 season, the franchise tag for defensive ends was $17.143 million, while linebacker tags were $14.961 million. Likewise, the option payments change based on position. The bump took Clowney’s 2018 pay from $12.306 million to $13.31 million.
The Texans use Clowney in a variety of roles, making the positional ambiguity a costly question. Regardless of the designation, he had 9.5 sacks last season and has grown into a key part of their defense. He won’t be cheap. But perhaps an agreement on last year’s pay is a good sign for their ability to work something out in the future.