The San Francisco 49ers will look to add pass rush talent this offseason, but the 2019 NFL Draft might end up offering the best chance at an impact player. We already know the 49ers were shot down in their bid for Khalil Mack, and things likely won’t get much easier when free agency arrives.
Houston Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney and Dallas Cowboys edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence are two intriguing options, but it is possible neither hits free agency. Lawrence is playing on the franchise tag this season, and the team could elect to franchise him again in 2019. One report said he would not play under a second tag, so we’ll see what comes of that.
Clowney is playing the 2018 season on the fifth year option of his rookie contract. The Texans are likely to tag him this offseason, which could set up a legal skirmish over his position status. Clowney plays a hybrid role that some list as a linebacker and others listed as a defensive end. The franchise tag tender for defensive ends is roughly $2 million higher than that of linebackers. Over the weekend, Jason La Canfora reported the Texans want to tag him as a linebacker, while Clowney wants the defensive end tag.
Whatever the result of that, it seems likely that Clowney plays 2019 under the franchise tag if he does not agree to a long-term deal. The Texans could use the exclusive franchise tag, but if they don’t, would you give up two first round picks and a monster contract to land Clowney? He’s not Khalil Mack, but is he worth a pair of firsts?