Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported Clowney has told "several people" he's willing to sit out games—forfeiting around $1 million per week—to ensure he winds up in the right situation this season. Garafolo categorized the Pro Bowler as "hurt" that the Texans have entertained trading him.
Clowney will play under the franchise tag in 2019, regardless of where he spends the season. However, he's hesitant to sign the tag because that would give Houston the right to trade him to any NFL franchise.
"Until he decides to come in and sign the tender, really the ball's in his court relative to playing for the Texans and all those things, just like it's been since the beginning of training camp. He's a franchise player and so until he comes and signs the tender, really there's nothing really else to talk about," Texans coach Bill O'Brien told reporters.
Clowney recently fired agent Bus Cook over displeasure with how his future is being handled. A Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons, Clowney recorded 47 tackles and nine sacks in 2018 while flashing versatility as a pass rusher off the edge. He has split time at defensive end and linebacker throughout his career after dominating at South Carolina as a defensive end.
Because he's not under contract, the Texans have no recourse to punish Clowney. Holding out is essentially the only power play Clowney has left because once he signs his deal, he's subject to the whims of the team.
It appears it's best for all parties to find a trade partner Clowney will willingly play for in 2019 and move on.