Adam Schefter of ESPN reported such a move is "anticipated" because the Texans labeled Clowney a defensive end/linebacker while assigning a franchise tag to the South Carolina product. That is notable because linebacker tags are worth $1.698 million less in salary.
Schefter noted Clowney is expected to miss part of training camp after the two sides could not come to terms on a long-term deal prior to Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline. He also provided additional context to the labeling situation:
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans were not actively involved in negotiations leading up to Monday's deadline.
Wilson explained unsigned franchise players such as Clowney can miss the preseason and training camp without being fined. He cited league sources who expect the pass-rusher to miss most of the preseason and camp before signing a $15.967 franchise tender before the season starts on Sept. 9 against the New Orleans Saints.
While a contract stalemate isn't an ideal situation, the Texans can at least take solace knowing that scenario would ensure Clowney could take the field after reaching the last three Pro Bowls.
He had nine sacks in 2018 and 9.5 in 2017 and is one reason Houston has made the playoffs in three of the last four years. The team is expected to compete once again in the AFC South in part because of the pass-rushing tandem of Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, and an extended holdout into the season would take away one of its defensive weapons.