Texans Seek to Extend Hopkins, Will Pick Up Clowney Option
Updated March 1, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Once again, the Houston Texans will have an interesting offseason. The Texans are interested in Tony Romo at the right price, while owner Bob McNair has suggested they will look to draft a quarterback in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. Those moves could prompt the team to jettison Brock Osweiler after one season.
While the quarterback position will be a big focus of the media and fans, sources tell WalterFootball.com that the team will work hard to sign star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to a long-term extension this offseason. They also plan to pick up the fifth-year option on the contract of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with a view beyond that.
Hopkins is entering the final season of his rookie contract. The Texans took Hopkins with the 27th-overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Hopkins has turned into one of the best players from that draft class with many busted picks going ahead of Houston's pro bowl wide receiver. Hopkins totaled 1,210 yards in 2014 and 1,521 yards in 2015 before Osweiler's struggles limited Hopkins to 954 yards last season. Because he was vastly underpaid compared to other top wideouts in the NFL, Hopkins had a brief holdout to start training camp in 2016 before returning to the team.
During the 2016 season, the New England Patriots tried to trade for Hopkins and Houston told them they weren't interested. Sources say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached out to the Texans about trading for Hopkins during training camp. That also was quickly turned down by Houston. The Texans view Hopkins as a long-term building block and will seek to get him signed to a lucrative long-term contract.
After two seasons robbed by injuries, Clowney had a breakout 2016 season for Houston, leading its No. 1 ranked defense en route to a Pro Bowl season. The Texans will exercise their fifth-year option on Clowney's contract, but that may not be the only moves they make with their young star defensive end. After getting Hopkins re-signed, a long-term contract extension for Clowney will be under consideration even though Clowney has two more years under contract.
Texans general manager Rick Smith made a brilliant move to extend J.J. Watt in 2014 when Watt still had two years remaining on his contract. Before long lesser players like Mario Williams, Malik Jackson, and Olivier Vernon signed comparable deals to Watt's while other defenders like Von Miller, Ndamukong Suh, Muhammed Wilkerson, and Fletcher Cox had bigger contracts last season than Watt did. Even with Watt missing most of last season with a back injury, that contract has turned into a bargain with how Watt played as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Smith could echo that move by getting Clowney locked up long-term as he is entering his prime and becoming one of the top edge defenders in the NFL. Signing Clowney this offseason could save the Texans money in the long term compared to waiting until 2018 if Clowney builds off or even maintains the dominant level of play he showcased at the end of the 2016 season.
While the Texans will be looking to get better at quarterback, the team also is planning to lock up some long-term building blocks in Hopkins and Clowney.