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The Texans have thoroughly botched Jadeveon Clowney’s contract situation

For The Win logo For The Win 8/13/2019 Steven Ruiz

a black helmet: USA TODAY © USA TODAY USA TODAY Without knowing how this all ends, we can already say that the Texans have botched the Jadaveon Clowney situation.

Long-time Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain sent NFL Twitter into a frenzy with the suggestion that it's likely Clowney will be traded sometime in the near future. The Texans need a left tackle, and as McClain put it, those "don't grow on trees," so giving up the 26-year-old may be the only way to find one before the 2019 season opens next month.

The Texans don't really have much of a choice if they want to get something in return for Clowney, who is guaranteed to hit free agency in 2020 with the deadline to negotiate a long-term deal before next offseason having already passed on July 14. Of course, the Texans could use the tag on him next year but would have to give him over $20 million in order to do so. The team had plenty of time to avoid their current predicament but just didn't…

That the deadline to negotiate a long-term deal has passed will complicate matters. Especially if the Texans are looking for a viable starter at left tackle. Washington has been suggested as a potential trade partner with Trent Williams demanding a move, but with only about $8 million in cap space available and Clowney locked in for a $15.97 million cap hit, a move would require some serious cap gymnastics to pull off. And the Redskins don't really have a pass rush need after spending three first-round picks on linemen over the last three years. Why give up a valuable trade chip in Williams for a luxury player who wouldn't stick around for more than a season?

The Panthers are another option. They have former all-pro Daryl Williams on the roster but he's not guaranteed a spot in the starting line up. Carolina could also use another edge rusher after drafting Brian Burns in the first round. One problem: There just isn't enough cap space to make it work. Had Houston been willing to deal Clowney before July 14, the Panthers front office could have offered him a long-term deal that brought his 2019 cap hit down to a manageable number. Alas.

Really, only half the league's teams have the space to make such a deal work, but, as McClain said, "LTs don't grow on trees," so the ven diagram of teams with cap space and good tackle depth is pretty much non-existent. The Eagles have a surplus of tackles and cap flexibility, but the Texans aren't giving up Clowney for Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who would provide a minimal upgrade to what's already on the roster. The chances of getting a good starting left tackle, especially at this point in the offseason, are slim.

You might be wondering why the Texans waited until now to address their offensive line need. Well, they didn't really. Houston spent a first-round pick on tackle Tytus Howard and then a second-round pick on tackle Max Scharping. Both picks were widely criticized as neither Howard nor Scharping appeared ready to contribute right away, and with Deshaun Watson taking a league-high 62 sacks in 2018, the team needed pass blockers who could contribute right away.

That Bill O'Brien, who was named interim general manager after Brian Gaine was fired so the Texans could try (and ultimately fail) to hire Nick Caserio away from New England, isn't comfortable with either of the team's highly drafted tackles protecting Watson's blindside is pretty damning of those selections and enough evidence to suggest Houston's line, as currently constructed, is going to be just as bad as it was a year ago. If the Texans fail to find an adequate starter at left tackle, we could be seeing more reports like this in 2019…

*FURIOUSLY KNOCKS ON WOOD*

Watson is off to a remarkable start to his career, and, thus far, he's been able to play well with ZERO protection. That won't last very long. Giving away a blue-chip talent like Clowney for pennies on the dollar may be tough for Texans fans to accept but allowing opposing pass rushers to tee off on the future of the franchise every Sunday is NOT an option that should be entertained.

At this point, the best-case scenario might be Houston landing a Day 2 pick and a mediocre tackle who can start right away. That would be a pitiful haul in exchange for one of the best young defensive players in the league but that's where the Texans are right now. And they have nobody to blame but themselves.

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