‘s fifth-year option recently, comfortably ahead of the May 2 deadline. The option will pay Clowney, the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, $13.846 million in 2018 and is guaranteed for injury upon exercise. This fifth year becomes fully guaranteed early next March on the first day of the 2018 league year.
Clowney has answered critics that had been suggesting the Texans drafted the wrong edge rusher in 2014 with the first overall pick. Knee problems sidelined Clowney for 15 of the 32 regular-season games in his first two years and kept him out of Houston’s playoff loss during the 2015 season. Meanwhile,
, the fifth overall pick, experienced immediate success with the
. Healthy for the first time last season, Clowney was named to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and earned some first-team All-Pro/All-NFL honors. He played a pivotal role in the Texans giving up the fewest yards in the NFL despite losing three-time Defensive Player of Year
to a back injury three games into the season.
Clowney’s stellar play in 2016 has put him in line for a contract extension either this offseason or next year before the start of the 2018 regular season. The Texans have a long-standing policy against negotiating contracts during the regular season. There are challenges the Texans will encounter regardless of whether Clowney is taken care of contractually sooner or later.
The Texans’ pecking order for extensions
, the Texans’ first-round pick in 2013, staged a one-day holdout when training camp opened last year protesting the Texans’ refusal the negotiate an extension before his fourth year. Hopkins had a point: The Texans had negotiated with Watt and
, their first-round picks in 2011 and ’12, before their fourth seasons. Watt’s extension came in early September 2014 in the days leading up to the start of the regular season. Mercilus got his new deal in May 2015 at the deadline to pick up his fifth-year option.
Hopkins is entering his contract year. General manager Rick Smith indicated that the Texans intend to re-sign Hopkins when he addressed the media at the NFL combine in early March. A new deal for Hopkins isn’t imminent.
The Texans run the risk of alienating Hopkins if Clowney is treated in the same manner as Watt and Mercilus before his own contract is extended. After expressing…