We’re just three days from the start of the 2019 regular season, and four key players have yet to join their respective teams.
A lot can happen over the coming days, but for now here’s a recap of the players who are holding out:
Clowney was one of six players who were designated as franchise players, but the only one whose situation hasn’t been resolved - the Seattle Seahawks traded Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys and Demarcus Lawrence agreed to a five-year extension, the Atlanta Falcons and Grady Jarrett agreed to a four-year extension, and Robbie Gould and the San Francisco 49ers eventually agreed to a two-year deal that includes an option.
That leaves three-time Pro Bowler Clowney, whose situation certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that the Texans fired their general manager in June and are going to go through this season without someone in that job.
Houston has discussed a trade with several teams, and Clowney has met with members of the Miami Dolphins but he’d like to be dealt to a team he considers a contender.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Elliott has two years remaining on his rookie contract but feels he’s earned an extension and likely doesn’t want to be in the situation Le’Veon Bell was in with the Pittsburgh Steelers: franchised two years in a row, metaphorically run into the ground with no longer-term security, and then released into free agency potentially as damaged or at least overused goods.
Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones has expressed confidence that a deal would get done with Elliott, but both he and his son Stephen have taken a couple of unnecessary shots at Elliott and agent Rocky Arceneaux. The offer on the table for Elliott would make him the second-highest paid running back in the league behind Todd Gurley but he’s pushing to be highest paid.
RB Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Gordon is headed into the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, the option year. Similar to Elliott, he’s likely not a fan of the idea of playing without the security of a long-term deal when he’s averaged between 19 and 22 touches per game over the last three seasons.
But unlike Elliott, Gordon and his agent made it clear from the outset: pay me fairly or trade me to someone who will. Thus far, neither has happened.
OT Trent Williams, Washington
Williams’ situation is unique: he’s under contract and is among the highest-paid players at his position. According to reports, the veteran tackle hasn’t reported to Washington over his general mistrust of the organization and discomfort with the team’s medical staff, whom he feels mishandled a lump he found on his head last year (Williams has since had the growth removed, and it was found to be benign). Recent reports said Williams won’t play for Washington again “period,” citing sources close to the Pro Bowler.
Despite team president Bruce Allen’s insistence that Williams will play for Washington again and Washington not wanting to trade him, it will be interesting to see how - or if - this is resolved.