The Jets have a giant hole at edge rusher. The Texans are shopping three-time Pro Bowl edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
It seems obvious to add 1+1 and get 2, but not necessarily in this case.
The Houston Chronicle reported the Jets are one of five teams “known to have spoken with” the Texans about Clowney. But that could simply mean the Texans called the Jets to see if they were interested. Everyone in the NFL knows the Jets have a need at the position.
The sense from people inside the Jets is there is not much interest from the team in Clowney. There are many reasons that the trade does not make sense for the Jets.
You never rule anything out completely at this time of year, but it does not feel like a match.
Start with Clowney’s contract situation. Houston applied the franchise tag to Clowney and he has yet to sign the $16 million tender. The way a franchise tag works is teams are permitted to negotiate a long-term deal with the player until July 15, then there is a moratorium on negotiations until January. That would mean any team trading for Clowney has no guarantee he will be with it long term. The team could use another franchise tag on him again next year, but that cap number will be close to $20 million.
The Jets have $14.7 million in salary-cap space, according to overthecap.com, so if they were to acquire Clowney it would require sending salary back to Houston or finding another way to clear some cap space. It is not difficult to create cap space, but acquiring Clowney would leave the Jets with very little wiggle room this season to sign players if they need to fill a hole in case of an injury.
There is also a question of how much Clowney is worth. He has not lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2014. He has 29 sacks in five seasons. The most he has had in a single season is 9.5 in 2017.
There are questions about his work ethic and he had injury issues earlier in his career. This is not the same as when the Raiders traded Khalil Mack last year. Clowney is not nearly as dominant.
Even if the Jets wanted Clowney, it feels as if it would be hard for them to make this deal anyway. The Dolphins are widely believed to be the front-runners. The Miami Herald reported the Texans want Miami left tackle Laremy Tunsil in any deal for Clowney. There also have been rumors of the Texans pursuing a deal with the Redskins for left tackle Trent Williams.
It appears Houston is interested in upgrading its offensive line. There have also been reports of them wanting a wide receiver. The Jets do not have players at those position who likely would be attractive to Houston. Maybe Robby Anderson would interest them, but the Jets can’t afford to create a hole at receiver by dealing him.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas was asked last week if he would be willing to deal draft picks to acquire a top player.
“If it was the right player, we’d certainly entertain it,” Douglas said. “We’re in the business of making this roster better. If the right opportunity presented itself, I certainly wouldn’t shut it down.”
Is Clowney the right player to part with a second-round pick? Doubtful.
The other half of this equation is: Would Clowney want the Jets? He holds all the cards here because the Texans can’t trade him until he signs his tender. Reports have said Clowney wants to go to a playoff team. The Jets are a fringe playoff contender at best. The Chronicle reported the Texans have spoken to the Seahawks, Eagles, Redskins and Dolphins in addition to the Jets. Seattle and Philadelphia are much closer to being a Super Bowl contender than the Jets.
So, while Clowney might be an intriguing option because of the hole the Jets have at edge rusher, the cons outweigh the pros on this one.