If new Jets general manager Joe Douglas really wants to trade for Jadeveon Clowney -- the Houston Texans' holdout pass rusher -- it won't be easy to do. It also won't be cheap.
And a deal for Clowney would come with great risk.
Here's a look at the Clowney situation, the risks involved, and the five reasons why a deal to the Jets might not be possible:
Clowney holds all the cards
The Texans slapped the franchise tag on Clowney for the price of $15.967 million for 2019. Clowney wants a long-term deal, so he hasn't signed it. But here's the catch: He has to sign it before the Texans can trade him. So the Texans can strike any deal they want with any team, but if Clowney doesn't want to go there, he can just not sign his tender and force the Texans to try and deal with someone else.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Texans have spoken to the Dolphins, Seahawks, Eagles, Redskins and Jets about a trade. Clowney has met with Dolphins officials, which would seem to indicate he's serious about playing in Miami. And the Chronicle called the Seahawks and Eagles "two of his preferred teams."
What about the Jets? That's unclear. Clowney apparently wants to play for a contender. But does he consider the Jets a contender?
Clowney is a one-year rental
The Texans had until July 15 to sign him to a long-term contract. Once they didn't, Clowney's only options were to sign his franchise tender or go the Le'Veon Bell route and not play in 2019.
Unfortunately for Clowney, that rule applies to his new team too -- if he's traded. In fact, whoever acquires him can't even discuss a long-term deal with him until after the season (at least not officially).
So the Jets would only be guaranteed one season of Clowney. Then he could sign wherever he wants. Of course, they'd have the option of using the franchise tag on him next year, but the cost of that is prohibitive -- probably at least $17 million, or more if a new collective bargaining agreement is signed and the terms change. Also, Clowney doesn't want the franchise tag now, which is how the Texans ended up in this mess in the first place, so he surely wouldn't want it then.
In other words, acquiring Clowney is really risky. The Jets might have to give up a lot for a player who might bolt on them as soon as the season is over.
The Jets don't have what the Texans want
Word around the league is the Texans want a player, not just draft picks, in return for Clowney. More specifically, they want a starting offensive lineman and a starting receiver they can pair with DeAndre Hopkins. According to the Chronicle, the Texans want holdout left tackle Trent Williams from Washington, so they're clearly not looking for backups.
Neither position, though, is a strength for the Jets. To bolster their offensive line they had to lure center Ryan Kalil out of retirement and trade for guard Alex Smith, who was about to be cut by the Ravens. Even with those additions, they've played most of the preseason with four of their starting offensive linemen out of the lineup. And at receiver, they are really thin behind the top three of Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson. Even if the Texans liked them, it's hard to imagine the Jets trading any of them without getting a receiver back.
Could the Jets entice the Texans with future draft picks? They could try. But it could be hard for Douglas to stomach giving up a first- or second-round pick for a one-year rental, and who knows if the Texans would accept anything less?
Besides, the Texans might just get what they want from one of the other teams. The rebuilding Dolphins need a star like Clowney to build around and the Seahawks need help up front due to the six-game suspension of defensive lineman Jarran Reed. They both could be aggressive in their pursuit of Clowney, driving up the price.
Clowney is not in a rush
He recently fired his long-time agent, Bus Cook, and there appear to be several agents scrambling to represent him. One agent not involved said Clowney "doesn't seem to be in much of a rush" to hire a new agent. It's doubtful that Clowney will make any big decisions until he hires and agent, discusses his situation and formulates a strategy.
It's unclear why Clowney fired Cook, but people around the league took that to mean that Clowney is willing to take his time to make his next move, even if it means sitting out regular season games (at a cost of $939,235 per week).
Incidentally, this could play to the Jets' advantage. Acquiring him during the season could cost less, both in trade and in the amount of the salary cap hit. Of course, the price could also go up if other teams get more aggressive or an injury causes another team to enter the bidding.
The Jets don't really have the salary cap room anyway … yet
If the Jets were to acquire Clowney, he'd immediately cost them $15.9 million against their salary cap. According to the NFL Players Association, the Jets currently only have $11,392,226 in cap room. That will change, obviously, when the final roster cuts are made on Saturday. The Jets could create room by cutting some expensive veterans. They could also re-do some existing contracts to create space.
Either of those options, though, can affect the Jets this year and beyond. So again, how far would Douglas go for a player who is a one-year rental? He certainly could find the cap space, but he'd have to be pretty sure that Clowney is the missing piece that puts the Jets over the top.