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Seahawks fans obsessing over unlikely Jadeveon Clowney acquisition

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NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

We have no reason to believe that the Seattle Seahawks would, could, or most importantly should make a trade for Houston Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney, and yet I can’t seem to read the comments section on a post or replies on Twitter without fans obsessing over this player.

Will the Seahawks trade for Clowney? No, probably not. The odds would have to be less than 5%, maybe less than 1%, but here we are.

There’s a former number one pick who wants the Texans to sign him or trade him, so hey, let’s all get out our GM hats and pretend this is a simple acquisition. One that I’m sure the compensation you propose Seattle giving up won’t even hurt. “A 2021 second round pick and an oft-injured player I don’t like that much anymore oughta do it!”

No, it ain’ta do it. And it ain’ta gonna cost’a the Seahawks anything less than all the money they wouldn’t give to Frank Clark. But don’t let that kill fantastical speculation.

Houston beat reporter John McClain expects the Texans to trade Clowney at some point and big moves like that aren’t as surprising as they once were. For Houston, it seems like this day was coming from the moment they selected Clowney at a time when they already had J.J. Watt and after five seasons it just never worked out like the twin towers they expected.

That doesn’t mean they don’t expect to contend this year — a full season of Deshaun Watson in a division where the only expected threat has a quarterback who is falling apart faster than Scarlett Johansson in LUCY and I too expect the Texans to be in the conversation.

But Watson’s blindside protection comes from Matt Kalil and that’s giving the Texans bigger concerns than what will happen if they don’t give $120 million to an above-decent linebacker/defensive end. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good, but we’ve yet to see the Clowney that entered the NFL as a virtual lock as the number one pick.

Clowney entered the league as “the next Lawrence Taylor” and right now he’s more like the next Calais Campbell. And that’s fine — for a short time, Campbell had a case as the second-best defensive player in the league — but him being on the block has once again shone a light on the fact that people often care more about draft status than the actual results that happened after the pick announcement.

As a run-stopper, Clowney could claim himself as a top-three defensive end, racking up 53 tackles for a loss over the last three seasons. He also has 59 QB hits, 24.5 sacks, 119 tackles, four forced fumbles, and five batted passes. In that time he ranks third in TFL, 19th in QB hits, and 22nd in sacks. But as a 26-year-old former number one pick with a good resume, Clowney is looking to become the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league who isn’t Aaron Donald.

And as far as I know, he does want to top Donald. That would be a bad idea.

As Jason Fitzgerald wrote on OvertheCap.com, Fitzgerald would get $17.1 million on the franchise tag if designated as a defensive end. That’s a lot of money for 2019 but the Seahawks could actually make it work. They’re supposedly around $20 million in space for this season and there’s ways for them to make more room.

But the complications go way beyond what Clowney would cost in 2019 or beyond.

First of all, Clowney is not signed by Houston. He effectively has a no trade clause because the team can’t trade him until he signs the tag. This means that not only does the acquiring team need to want Clowney, Clowney needs to want them. We don’t know that Clowney would want to come to Seattle — we want to believe that he would, but maybe he and his agent wouldn’t see it as his best opportunity to maximize his value for 2020.

They might not be too enamored with the way that the Seahawks acquired players like Jimmy Graham, Percy Harvin, and Sheldon Richardson, then seemingly put them in worse positions to produce numbers than the places they were at with their former teams. Seattle also isn’t the prime example of NFC success that they once were, while other teams like the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles could be involved in talks as well.

The Patriots are the most dangerous example of a team that could challenge for Clowney’s acquisition, as they have a close relationship with Bill O’Brien and have shown a propensity for acquiring elite talent in the past such as Darrelle Revis, Randy Moss, and Josh Gordon. They could also potentially offer up compensation like Marcus Cannon, because we’ve seen Belichick part ways with players such as Jaime Collins, Chandler Jones, Trent Brown, and Nate Solder in recent years.

Houston would want offensive line help and the Seahawks are in the absolute worst position to give them a left tackle ... since that guy is Duane Brown. The one person who will for sure never play for the Texans. Jamarco Jones and Germain Ifedi? I refer you back to my earlier comment that you’d want Seattle to get an elite defensive lineman while giving up an offensive lineman that you honestly care nothing about. If the trade doesn’t hurt you when you think about it, it’s probably not that realistic of a trade.

If you don’t care about Ifedi, why in the world do you think Houston would want one season of a middling right tackle in exchange for their franchise-tagged player? That’s even if you include a second round pick, which itself starts to feel like over-compensation for a one-year rental of a run-stopper.

You wanted Sheldon v2.0?

Second of all, the Seahawks or any team trading for Clowney couldn’t even give him the money he wants. After the July 15 deadline passed, a team can only trade for Clowney and let it ride. The fact that the Houston Texans haven’t had a GM since June is also hurting their chances of landing compensation that would motivate them to make a deal.

Instead, Fitzgerald speculates that Houston’s best option is to hold onto Clowney and tell him he can either show up and play or miss a season and hope for a solution in 2020, when the team could once again hope for a first round pick+ in return for Clowney. They have no motivation to move him without getting a first rounder or a premium player back in return, so is that you?

Are you willing to watch the Seahawks give up their 2020 first round pick on a one-year rental of Jadeveon Clowney?

Do me a favor and answer that question as it stands, not with any of the caveats you want to add to it. Don’t answer it with, “Well, Seattle is different.” Or “They can franchise tag him next year and at least get what they got for Frank Clark.” Or anything else. Just answer the question as it stands: Are you willing to watch the Seahawks trade next year’s first round pick for Clowney?

If the answer is no, maybe it’s time to stop speculating if Seattle could trade for Clowney at all. If you’re not willing to let the trade compensation hurt for a player that you believe is elite, then the question of “Could they?” might not be for you. Then even if your answer is “Yes!” you have a follow-up question: “Are you willing to watch the Seahawks give Clowney to a six-year, $140 million deal similar to the one Khalil Mack got from the Chicago Bears in 2018?”

Again, don’t caveat. Are you willing to watch Seattle give $27 million per year to Clowney in the heart of the contract he signs?

These are the realities of a trade for Clowney. It’s not as simple as “pick goes this way, player goes that way.” The Seahawks have the money and they have the willingness, we know that, but they probably don’t have the players that the Texans want, nor should we think they want to trade valuable players for Clowney anyway. We also have no reason to think that Seattle has any concerns about their plan at defensive end right now despite how dire things look:

  • This team chose to trade Michael Bennett in 2018
  • This team chose to trade Frank Clark in 2019
  • This team chose to bank their 2019 edge rush on Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier
  • This team knew going into those acquisitions that there were risks
  • This team did all of these moves knowing that Jarran Reed was facing suspension
  • This team could have traded for Clowney at any other point and they didn’t

So I have no reason to think the Seahawks want Clowney. I have no reason to think Clowney wants the Seahawks. I have no reason to think that the Texans are desperate to move Clowney anymore barring very good compensation. I have no reason to believe that the acquisition of Clowney at the expense of very good compensation would even make Seattle a better team — this is not to say that Clowney isn’t the good player I’ve said he is many times, but a change of scenery is not always a good thing and the Seahawks run a much different defense than the one Houston runs. I have no reason to believe that other teams don’t have better ammunition to make a trade than Seattle does.

There is no reason to believe that a Clowney to Seahawks trade is going to happen. And yet, here’s a post addressing it anyway because you keep asking.

Should we be sitting here in two weeks and Seattle has pulled off the unthinkable, then please have your cake. I’ll eat some too, because I’m not at all opposed to the idea of Clowney on a Seahawks defense that might be running the worst defensive line in the game by Week 1, but at this point that’s a move of desperation and a “Clowney-Seahawks” headline would be the oasis at the end of the desert.

The reality of it is almost certainly a mirage.