Back in May I wrote an article considering the possibility of a Jadeveon Clowney trade. This was before Seattle signed Ziggy Ansah.
Clowney is being shopped, wrote it yesterday and the great @McClain_on_NFL would be shocked if he was NOT traded. Solving the Texans requirements for the trade (they will be reasonable) won't be hard for teams, solving the money for Clowney will be.
— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) August 13, 2019
In the last 24 hours multiple reports have suggested the Texans are ready to deal Clowney. It’s starting to feel inevitable he’ll move on before the start of the season.
Make no mistake — he’s a fantastic player.
In the last three years he’s accumulated 54 TFL’s. In 2017 his 21 TFL’s ranked #2 in the league and in 2016 he led the NFL with 17. Last year he had 16 but only ranked at #11.
In comparison, Frank Clark had only 11 TFL’s in 2018 and had 32 over the last three seasons.
This video from Brett Kollmann further highlights how effective Clowney has been in Houston:
So what are the chances of the Seahawks being one of the teams to show interest?
They pride themselves on being ‘in’ on every deal so if Clowney is being shopped, there’s a decent chance they’ve at least assessed their options. They currently have about $24m in available cap space this year and they have plenty next year too so that’s not a problem. They also possess a haul of 2020 draft picks including two second and third rounders.
The roster looks deep across the board with the only major question mark being the pass rush. The Seahawks aren’t a million miles away from being seriously competitive and Clowney has the kind of game-wrecking talent they lack on the defensive line (unless Ansah can rekindle his best form).
He’s also only 26-years-old. Any deal for Clowney could secure a player ready to enter his prime much in the way Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett did from 2013 onwards.
A pass rush of Clowney and Ansah complimented by L.J. Collier and Jacob Martin would potentially address Seattle’s greatest need and set them up for another Championship window.
So why wouldn’t they make the move?
There are a few reasons.
Firstly — the Texans appear determined to add a left tackle. They’ve been short at the position since trading Duane Brown. They need to protect Deshaun Watson. Any Clowney trade likely needs to provide an obvious solution to this problem.
With Trent Williams and the Redskins currently in a stand-off — a swap of players would make legitimate sense for all concerned. Both teams would address key needs and both would be removing a headache from their roster.
You don’t often see many player-for-player trades though. It’s also possible Washington and Houston will value their players differently. The Texans might need to trade Clowney first for picks and then offer some of the stock to Washington for Williams. Regardless, swapping Clowney for Williams could interest both teams.
Secondly — this will be a really difficult deal to pull off. The deadline has passed for Clowney to sign a long-term extension this year per the rules of the franchise tag. Any potential buyer will have to wait until the off-season and run the risk of losing him in free agency. For that reason, it’ll likely have a big impact on how teams value a trade. Yet the Texans equally aren’t going to want to give him away. Finding a fair level of compensation will be tricky for any team looking to part with picks.
It’s worth noting though that his salary will be between $19-21m if he’s franchised again in 2020. That’s about the going rate for a top pass rusher. The tag would provide security for a buying team in a trade and likely set the table for a long term extension. His contract status isn’t prohibitive in this instance — it’s just hard to make a deal for a player you’re only guaranteed to have for one or two seasons. When the Chiefs traded a 2019 first and a 2020 second rounder for Frank Clark — they immediately extended his contract to protect the investment. Does a buyer get a discount on Clowney because they can’t act? And are the Texans willing to accept anything less than the Clark trade compensation?
Thirdly — the Seahawks appear to be turning over a new leaf. They were very aggressive at the end of the LOB era. They traded for Brown at left tackle (a success) and for Sheldon Richardson (not so much) and lost serious draft stock for consecutive years. Now they’ve finally got a haul of picks waiting in 2020. The entire roster has been energised by a youth movement. Continuing to acquire young talent appears to be the approach rather than returning to bold veteran trades.
While there’s clearly an issue with the pass rush it also seems they’re willing to try and manage the situation. Carroll admitted, somewhat frankly, they were ‘looking for the blitzer’s’ against Denver. Finding ways to create pressure without relying on the rushers might be their aim. Whether it works or not remains to be seen — yet Seattle’s defense wasn’t a massive liability in 2018 with a similar problem. They relied on Frank Clark and Jarran Reed for pressures. Clark has gone but Reed will return after six weeks of the regular season. Ansah has provided a cheap solution to Clark, albeit on a temporary basis.
The Seahawks seemingly didn’t show any interest in Gerald McCoy or Mike Daniels after they were made available despite having the cap room to make a move. A big splash, weeks before the season, seems a bit more 2013-2017 than 2018-19.
Even so, there’s one more thing to consider. Listen to the audio below and fast-forward to 10:45…
Brock Huard says the defensive and offensive linemen went 1v1 at training camp yesterday. Usually this is a drill that suits the D-liners. Huard states there was only one clean win for the defense in the session (a concern).
He goes on to say Duane Brown dominated, that Jacob Martin had a rough outing, that Cassius Marsh had a couple of decent rushes and that Poona Ford and Jarran Reed bull-rushed competently. Overall it was poor from the pass rushers though and he ended the piece by emphasising Barkevious Mingo in particular had a ‘tough day’.
Gregg Bell at the TNT also wrote about Mingo here:
Mingo’s pass-rush drill Tuesday wasn’t much better than his subpar one Monday. Or his one from Sunday. Actually, it was worse.
On consecutive snaps, Mingo got thrown to the ground by an offensive lineman, starter and reserve alike.
The first time reserve guard Jordan Roos pushed down Mingo to the grass when the end tried to loop inside on a two-man stunt. The second face plant came when starting right tackle Germain Ifedi rode Mingo out wide, out wider than basically belly-flopped onto his back and pushed him prone into the turf.
You have to wonder if witnessing that drill might ignite interest in a potential deal for Clowney (or to bolster the pass rush in other ways).
It really comes down to their desire to build this thing slowly with draft picks and young players complimenting the star veterans on mega money — or whether they want to be aggressive to go after a Championship right now.
Some of their previous bold moves (Sheldon Richardson, Jimmy Graham, Percy Harvin) didn’t come off. For that reason alone some will say ‘no thanks’ to another splash. Here’s one thing to remember though. You’re not going to find a 26-year-old freak of nature and former #1 overall pick in the late first round next year. And the Seahawks aren’t a million miles away from being a serious challenger in the NFC.
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