With Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney still holding out, but still likely to show up in time to get the first weekly installment of his unsigned (to date) franchise tender, some have suggested that Clowney could be traded. And he indeed could be. However, it would be hard to pull it off.
Anyone trading for Clowney would be getting his services for one year, with no ability to sign him to an extension until after the regular season ends. At that point, Clowney would have the leverage of a 20-percent raise over his 2019 salary, whether it’s $15.967 million or, if his grievance regarding his alleged status as a defensive end is successful, $17.128 million. That equates to either $19.16 million or $20.55 million for 2020, either of which becomes the starting point for negotiations on a long-term deal.
So what would a team, assuming it has the cap space to absorb Clowney’s contract, give up in order to get Clowney for one year? And what would the Texans want to part with the rights to Clowney for 2019 plus the ability to franchise-tag him in 2020, sign him to a long-term deal, or let him walk in free agency with a compensatory draft pick arriving in 2021?
Unless there’s a player who fits a specific need for Houston (e.g., tackle), it would be a draft-picks deal, and there likely won’t be a team that will offer enough in draft-pick compensation for a one-year rental, especially this close to the start of the season.
Indeed, if anyone wanted to trade for Clowney, they likely would have made the move before July 15, at which time Clowney could have been extended. The fact that, by all appearances, no one made an effort to trade for Clowney when he could have been signed to a long-term deal makes it far less likely that anyone would trade for him now, barring an injury or some other situation creating a need for Clowney that didn’t exist a month ago.