Amid reports that Clowney and the Texans aren't close on the deal, and that the team seemed content to let the pass-rusher play out the season on the tag, general manager Brian Gaine said Thursday sides continue to try to hammer out a long-term solution before the July 15 deadline.
"That's the spirit of the franchise tag," Gaine said, via the team's official website. "You know, there's a reason why we did that with every hope and intention to continuing to work on that. That's a negotiation, it's a process. It has to be a deal that makes sense for both sides, for the player, for the organization as it relates to short term and long term. That's still the plan."
The negotiations with Clowney always seemed tough on the surface. As athletic as the former No. 1 overall pick is, he's never had a double-digit sack season and is only now proving he can stay healthy enough for a full season. Does the production through five seasons match what it would take to hammer out a long-term deal? Or is letting Clowney play out the year under the tag and take the lay of the land make the most sense for the franchise? From the player's perspective, why should he give up a penny more than what an edge-rush-needy team might pay if he ever makes it to the open market?
Clowney is set to earn $15.97 million on the franchise tag in 2019. If sides don't come to a long-term deal this offseason, it could cost way more than that per year if the pass rusher earns the best year of his career. Or, on the flip side, Clowney could be looking at a series of prove-it deals if the injury bug bites once again.