Only a few days before the draft, the Seahawks pulled off a blockbuster trade, jettisoning star defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a 2019 first round pick, a 2020 second round pick, and a swap of third rounders.
The trade sent shockwaves throughout the NFL, as Kansas City added a star pass rusher to an already-loaded roster, while Seattle made a statement by choosing not to pay him market value with quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner set to receive record-breaking extensions.
Fast forwarding to mid-August, the Seahawks are still feeling the consequences of shipping Clark out of town and pass rushing concerns have been worsened by defensive tackle Jarran Reed’s upcoming six-game suspension.
Even with some promising young edge defenders such as Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin on the roster who could take major steps forward, it’s clear Seattle could use reinforcements. The pending return of Ezekiel Ansah certainly will help, but can he stay healthy? That remains to be seen.
Situations change quickly in the win-at-all-costs business called the NFL, and though general manager John Schneider wasn’t willing to pay Clark north of $20 million per year a few months ago, a development in Houston may present a unique opportunity for Seattle to dramatically improve its roster in the midst of training camp.
According to Lance Zeurlein of NFL.com, the Texans “will do everything in their power” to move former top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney before the start of the 2019 season. The ex-South Carolina star has held out of training camp seeking a new deal after receiving the franchise tag back in March.
I’ve previously delved into complications that would prevent the Seahawks from having legitimate interest in pursuing Clowney, but there now seems to be increased urgency for the Texans to make a deal happen.
Like Clark, Clowney just turned 26 in February and he should be entering the prime of his NFL career. After battling injuries during his first two seasons, he posted at least 9.0 sacks and 21 quarterback hits each of the past two seasons and has been selected to the Pro Bowl three straight years.
Some may consider Clowney a bust given the hype surrounding him coming out of college, but it can be argued Houston hasn’t exactly maximized his strengths. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound defender has played significant snaps as a linebacker since being drafted and the possibility of plugging him in as Seattle’s LEO defensive end would make coach Pete Carroll salivate.
Cost and draft compensation remain the biggest obstacles preventing a trade from coming to fruition, but according to OverTheCap.com, the Seahawks still have $20 million in cap space available for this year and more than $60 million available for 2020. That’s with Wagner and Wilson already signed to lucrative extensions.
If Seattle needed a bit more flexibility to comfortably add Clowney on a multi-year extension, Schneider could cut injured tight end Ed Dickson and/or defensive end Barkevious Mingo to create up to $6 million in cap space.
When it comes to receiving adequate compensation in return, the Texans don’t have a ton of leverage either. Zeurlein reported that the star defender has already nixed a trade to the Dolphins, signaling the franchise’s intentions and potentially lowering the price to acquire him.
Without an actual general manager in place at the moment to facilitate a deal for the Texans, the Seahawks could offer a mid-round pick and potentially add in one of their promising young safeties and guard Ethan Pocic to sweeten the pot. This time of year, Houston might be hard-pressed to get a much better package and Seattle wouldn’t be giving up too much to instantly bolster its pass rush for the foreseeable future.
Combining the Clark and proposed Clowney trades, Seattle would basically have swapped Clark for Clowney while acquiring a first and second round pick and giving up just a mid-round selection and a player or two who may not have made the final 53-man roster to begin with. Call that whatever you want, but that would thievery by the Seahawks front office.
Ultimately, the chances of such a deal happening remains slim to none and a trade shouldn’t be expected. Schneider appears to have learned from past failures acquiring star players in trades and the Seahawks may not be a premier edge rusher away from contending for a Super Bowl.
But at the same time, Schneider has never been averse to inquiring about the availability of a player and never leaves a stone unturned. If he has the opportunity to pry Clowney away from the Texans without having to give up a boatload of picks, he should pull the trigger.