It was widely believed that Texans linebacker (or defensive end) Jadeveon Clowney would have signed his franchise tender by now. It is widely believed that the Texans won’t rescind Clowney’s franchise tender.
But they still could. Until Clowney accepts it, the franchise tender can be withdrawn. (It has happened at least three times before, with the Panthers doing it in 2016, removing the tender from cornerback Josh Norman.) If, as has been reported elsewhere, the Texans are willing to package Clowney with a first-round pick for Dolphins tackle Laremy Tunsil, the Texans may be sliding into desperation mode with Clowney. And the next question becomes, if they can’t move him for whatever they can get, whether the Texans would simply strip the tender, save $16 million to $17 million in cash and cap space, and move on.
It’s unclear, but unlikely, that the Texans would be eligible for a compensatory draft pick in 2020 if they remove the tender now, given that the compensatory draft pick formula shuts off in May. Still, the bigger issue here could be that the Texans simply want to move on from Clowney and his significant financial obligation for 2019.
While it would still be a surprise if the Texans do it, remember this: Former G.M. Brian Gaine wanted to sign Clowney to a long-term deal, and coach Bill O’Brien wanted to use the one-year tender. With Gaine gone and no one taking his place, it’s possible O’Brien has shifted from “I only want him for another year” to “I’d rather keep the cap space for next year.”
The Texans surely would exhaust any and all trade options for Clowney before ever releasing him. But with trade interest limited and with Clowney not signing the tender (which prevents a trade from happening), the Texans eventually could get sufficiently exasperated with Clowney that they cut him loose.
From Clowney’s perspective, it makes sense to consider whether he’d get a better deal on the open market if he suddenly becomes a free agent. Given his history of injuries and performances that have gone hot and cold from time to time, he may have a hard time getting more in 2019 than he currently would get by simply accepting what the Texans are offering.