RENTON — Have the Seahawks talked to the Houston Texans about potentially trading for Jadeveon Clowney?
Yes, they have.
But does that mean a trade of Clowney to the Seahawks is imminent and/or inevitable?
No, it does not.
Reports that the Seahawks are one of least two teams the disgruntled Texans defensive end/pass rusher would prefer to be traded to emerged earlier this week.
And on Wednesday night and Thursday morning came further reports that Seattle is one of at least five teams to have talked to the Texans about Clowney.
The Seattle Times has confirmed the Seahawks have at least had a conversation with Houston about Clowney. But how serious Seattle may be is unclear.
Any talks between the Seahawks and Texans could well just be in keeping with the long-stated desire of coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to be involved in everything — and any talks also could simply be Houston calling Seattle, knowing that Clowney has apparently expressed an interest in the Seahawks.
The Texans are also thought to prefer to trade Clowney to a number of other teams that may be able to offer them what they apparently want most: an offensive lineman. Houston also is on the market for a running back. Seattle could maybe help them there, depending on what the Texans think of Rashaad Penny, who would seem the only Seattle running back who would have trade value that Seattle might be willing to trade. Seattle also has a lot of draft picks down the road it could offer — specifically, two seconds and two thirds in 2020.
The Houston Chronicle reported that “nothing has advanced” in talks between the Texans and teams such as the Seahawks, Eagles (one of Clowney’s reported other preferred teams), Washington and and the New York Jets.
Instead, the most smoke and fire right now involves the Texans and the Miami Dolphins, who were granted permission this week to talk to Clowney. The Dolphins were not regarded as at the top of Clowney’s list of teams to play for due in part to their middling expectations and standing clearly in rebuilding mode. As of Tuesday, Seattle did not have permission to talk to Clowney.
But the Dolphins appear to be the most aggressive in their pursuit of Clowney, which could win him over. Clowney essentially has to approve any trade because he has not signed his franchise tag and he’d have to do that first before he could be dealt. And that might also make Miami, which could be desperate to make a splash for attention in the first year under coach Brian Flores, willing to give up more than other teams.
And that has all led to the general feeling that Miami is the most likely destination for Clowney and that only if things break down there would other teams — such as the Seahawks — potentially get seriously involved.
Several reports have indicated, though, that Clowney is in no hurry to do anything and is even willing to miss game checks of $939,247.
There’s no question that Seattle could use Clowney, the first pick in the 2014 draft and a Pro Bowl pick the last three seasons — he had nine sacks a year ago.
Pass rush is maybe Seattle’s biggest question anyway, and the loss of Jarran Reed for six games won’t help (though Clowney isn’t really a direct replacement for Reed).
How interested Seattle might be in Clowney, though, could depend on how optimistic the Seahawks are that Ziggy Ansah will be able to be a big contributor immediately (though at this point, it’s also worth remembering Clowney hasn’t been practicing and would need some time to catch up).
And as John McClain of The Houston Chronicle noted, with each day a trade may get more unlikely because teams will want to give up less and less once the season is underway.
But some of what have been thrown around as potential factors for Seattle to consider — that he’d be a one-year rent-a-player and whether the Seahawks consider themselves as “all in” — are probably not really that big of a deal.
Any team trading for Clowney will have to take on his franchise tag price for this season of $15.9 million. Seattle has the cap space to do that, though severely limiting its ability at that point to do much of anything else. The Seahawks have just over $20 million remaining in cap space as of this week (though more could be created with the release of a few veterans, if needed).
Clowney could be a one-year rent-a-player — NFL rules would prohibit any team trading for him to negotiate a new deal until after the season — but that likely doesn’t bother Seattle all that much.
If, say, Seattle were to acquire Clowney but then not re-sign him, the Seahawks would almost surely be in line for a third-round pick in 2021 as compensation. Seattle had a similar situation with Sheldon Richardson in 2017 and was just fine with him playing for the one season and then potentially getting a comp pick back (the way it worked out, because Seattle signed other free agents, it did not get a comp pick for Richardson).
And the Seahawks have a franchise tag of their own they can use in 2020. They could just do with Clowney what they did with Frank Clark (and what Houston may well do now with Clowney): tag him and then work out a trade.
As for what a trade for Clowney might say about what Seattle thinks of its team right now, the Seahawks are always in “win now” mode as long as Carroll is coach — he turns 68 next month — and Russell Wilson is the quarterback.
But, that doesn’t mean making every single big trade that comes down the pike at he expense of the future.
As Schneider has also often said, the goal is to create a team that can be competitive every single season.
So that’s always the hurdle that has to be crossed, making a trade that makes sense in both the present and the future.
But for now, a lot else may have to have to happen first for Seattle to even be in position to have to consider any of that.