The Houston Texans have found themselves in a precarious situation with their star linebacker/defensive end Jadeveon Clowney holding out of training camp. Clowney was set to hit free agency this year, but the Texans slapped the franchise tag on him and he’s not very happy about it. Houston is coming off a strong season and it would’ve seemed like they would want to keep Clowney around because J.J. Watt is always injured, but recent reports would indicate that they are interested in a potential trade. If the Texans are interested in trading away the former number one overall pick, could the Oakland Raiders be a player?
Do the Raiders Need Clowney?
Short answer, yes. Long answer, no. If the Raiders are going to make any kind of playoff push in 2019, they’re going to need to get after the quarterback. Following the Khalil Mack trade, the team only mustered 13 sacks in the entire season and the defense as a whole was terrible. Oakland addressed this issue by adding Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick, but they still don’t have another guy that brings a lot of pass-rushing ability. Josh Mauro is currently slated to start at defensive end along with Ferrell. Those two have a combined three NFL sacks. Mauro has been in the league for four years and he’s not going to become an elite pass rusher out of nowhere.
If the Raiders are going to look at their division, they’d see that every team has at least one fierce pass rusher. In the case of the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers, they have two. Frank Clark, Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb combined for 52 sacks in 2018. Bosa only played in seven games. There probably isn’t a division more rich with pass rushers than the AFC West. Even if Ferrell puts up an excellent rookie season, the Raiders will be behind the other teams in their division.
The Clowney situation is different than the Mack one. Mack still had a year left on his contract and decided he didn’t want to honor it. Clowney played out his contract but got stuck with a franchise tag. He isn’t as dominant as Mack and probably never will be. He’s never gotten more than 9.5 sacks in a season, but he’s consistent and an all-around defender. If he doesn’t demand Mack money than the Raiders should consider making the trade. It’s hard to imagine that Jon Gruden foresaw how bad the Raider pass rush would be without Mack. While Mack is irreplaceable, Gruden can try to somewhat fix his mistake by bringing in Clowney.
There’s this weird narrative that Clowney is very injury prone. It doesn’t seem like people realize that he has only missed three games in three seasons. Yes, he missed a lot of time in his first two years, but that’s in the past. If the Raiders want to wait and see what they have in Arden Key and Maxx Crosby, then they should avoid Clowney. That being said, adding him could help put the cherry on top of a defense that looks revamped heading into 2019.
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What the Raiders Should Offer in a Trade for Jadeveon Clowney
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans are hoping to find a left tackle before the season starts. There’s almost no way that Gruden or Mike Mayock are giving up Kolton Miller this late into the preseason. It’s doubtful that any team is going to give up a left tackle, except the Washington Redskins, who have Trent Williams holding out. If the Texans can’t find somebody willing to give them a strong left tackle than they could settle for an interesting package from the Raiders.
Oakland has two first-round picks heading into 2020 thanks to the Khalil Mack trade. However, this offer wouldn’t involve trading that pick. Instead, the Raiders could give the Texans their second-round pick. The silver and black have been terrible with their second-round picks in the last few years, so they should just get rid of it altogether. Throw in a third-rounder and defensive end Arden Key, and that seems like a fair deal. The Texans get a young, cheap defensive lineman with upside and they get two decent picks. That’s not bad considering Clowney was supposed to be a free agent.
There’s no way the Texans should expect to get a similar return to what the Raiders did for Mack. Mack is a once in a generation type player. If the Raiders got Clowney for the above trade, then they traded Mack, Amari Cooper, Arden Key, a second-round pick, two third-round picks and a fifth-round pick for Antonio Brown, Clowney, Josh Jacobs, Johnathan Abram and another first-round pick. That’s a pretty good haul for the silver and black and could bring the team back to the playoffs.