I’m not trying to be a contrarian. Hear me out.
I think what Houston did this weekend might make sense.
At the very least, I think there are some things to consider.
Mike Florio touted the possibility of Houston rescinding Jadeveon Clowney’s franchise tag on Friday. We saw the Panthers do something similar with Josh Norman a few years ago.
By now we know the Texans were close to making a blockbuster trade for Laremy Tunsil. They’d seemingly tried to include Clowney in a trade package for Tunsil, only for the player to rebuff that possibility by refusing to sign his franchise tender.
Having concluded they still wanted to make a deal for Tunsil, the Texans and Dolphins agreed a trade including two first round picks and a second round pick instead.
Presumably Houston intends to pay Tunsil having given up a kings ransom to acquire him. Therefore, simply moving on from Clowney made some sense. He was taking up $16m. If there was no chance of him playing for you in 2019 (or extending his contract) — and with zero trade leverage — it’s logical to think they preferred to just ‘move on’. Let him go.
If they were going to remove the tag that also partly explains why they’ve offered to pay half of Clowney’s salary to get something in return, rather than leave empty-handed.
Even if they weren’t planning to rescind the tag and were simply willing trade him for the best offer, they’d gone past the point of no return. Sometimes you’ve just got to know when to move on. If the Seahawks had come to that conclusion a year ago with Earl Thomas, they would’ve avoided getting nothing for him but a future comp pick.
Clearly the Texans handled this poorly at the beginning of the off-season. Extending Clowney should’ve been a priority. If it wasn’t, they should’ve dealt him months ago.
However, there was plenty of talk about Houston trying to make a deal before and after the draft. Having seen Frank Clark dealt for a first and second round pick — they were well within their rights to seek similar compensation. Such an offer wasn’t forthcoming and they were stuck.
Weren’t the Seahawks in a similar position 18 months ago? It’s clear they were open to trading Earl Thomas. Dallas flirted with an offer but reportedly only offered a third rounder during the 2018 draft. Seattle wanted more and therefore simply moved on — allowing Thomas to play out the final year of his contract.
Sometimes — even if you intend to trade a player — you just can’t. When the offer doesn’t feel right it’s tempting to just carry on and hope the situation improves down the line. With Thomas and Clowney — that was never the case.
Twelve months ago if the Seahawks had traded Thomas for a third round pick and two additional players — most people would’ve said it was a bad trade. Yet he only played a few games before getting injured and then he was off as a free agent. That third round pick and those players might’ve, with hindsight, been a good deal.
Now the Texans have taken what was presumably the best offer on the table. Clearly Clowney has dictated that to an extent, having supposedly narrowed his preferred destinations to Seattle and Philadelphia. Yet the trade has allowed Houston to move on. They avoid any drama or distraction — the type of which that has hindered the Seahawks in the past.
The move preempted their Laremy Tunsil trade. And while it’s easy to scoff at the price tag — the Texans acquired a franchise left tackle who just turned 25. There aren’t many quality, young offensive tackles in the league. Now Houston has one. They won 11-games a year ago, they have a quality quarterback and some offensive weapons. They have J.J. Watt. They’re a stronger contender in the AFC over the next few years based on their moves this weekend than they were last season.
And let’s say next April they wanted to trade up to fill that gigantic hole at left tackle. Would they have to give up their 2021 pick to move up in round one? For a rookie? Isn’t this the same move, albeit for a player with genuine NFL experience?
You could also argue against Tunsil’s potential or current ability if you wish — or make a legitimate claim that the Texans should create a better environment so players like Duane Brown don’t want to leave in the first place.
Perspective is too infrequently used, however. People have spent two days hammering the Texans without ever truly attempting to see it from their point of view.
I actually think three teams can be satisfied after a busy weekend. The Seahawks fill their greatest need and improve their pass rush in 2019. The Texans move on from a potential distraction and get a much-needed left tackle. The Dolphins are well positioned to rebuild their franchise in 2020 (which has been their intention, as reported at the time by Adam Schefter, since the end of last season).
Laugh away at Houston if you wish. I think the better way to view the Clowney deal is this — the Seahawks saw an opportunity and emphatically ran with it. John Schneider and his staff should be applauded for their work in 2019. Not just the Clowney trade but also the Clark trade, the way they turned four draft picks into a haul and the way they managed to re-sign Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner in a matter of months.
This is the work of an executive of the year — regardless of Seattle’s eventual 2019 record.
Yet the Seahawks’ opportunism doesn’t necessarily have to mirror ineptitude on behalf of the Texans. They certainly created some of their own problems. They’ve also addressed them and can move on — importantly as a team capable of contending in the AFC right away.
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