On this whirlwind NFL weekend, one transaction made waves above the rest: The Houston Texans traded former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney to the Seahawks for a third-round pick, pass rusher Barkevious Mingo and DE/OLB Jacob Martin.
This was followed by the blockbuster move: Texans are reportedly trading two first-round picks and a second-rounder (plus additional pieces) to the Dolphins for LT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills. Initially it felt like Houston was moving its most valuable trade piece without getting anything back to boost their offensive line, but Tunsil represents a huge upgrade at that position.
Here are some quick thoughts about Clowney heading to Seattle…
• The Seahawks essentially flipped Frank Clark for a first-round pick, second-round pick and a third-round pick swap and ended up getting Clowney for a third-round pick. While you could argue that Clark is the better player, Clowney is an excellent run defender with high sack production. He’s going to fit well into Pete Carroll’s defense, assuming he stays healthy and is paired with a first-round pick, L.J. Collier (working his way back from an injury) and a high-upside flier in Ziggy Ansah (who sounds like he will be healthy for the opener).
• Clowney did miss 18 games over the course of his rookie deal in Houston, so while it’s understandable to be wary of a long-term pact (NFL STATS says the Texans averaged two fewer points per game surrendered in the games Clowney was sitting out), there is no question that Clowney, who is one of only four players in the NFL with 20 or more sacks and 50 or more tackles for a loss over the last three seasons, makes your team better in the current window.
• The Seahawks are strong enough to weather a difficult NFC West, and maybe good enough to win it if you assume the Rams come back to earth a little bit. While this is not the kind of trade that immediately skyrockets them there, it was the kind of deal that patches up a position of need with a top-five player and gives Carroll a versatile defensive piece in a division with a handful of mismatch-creating running backs and one mobile quarterback.
• It’s important to note that this is yet another tide-changing maneuver from an unhappy franchise tag player. The tool, initially used to prevent movement, is simply an administrative title that forces decisions right around the time a player should be entering their best years. Despite firing his representatives midway through, it seems Clowney played his leverage well throughout. We could be reaching the end of the road for teams who are banking on the tag as one more year of locked in evaluations. This is not only a positive for long-term player security, but probably a boon for the NFL as well. The NBA has changed the way we attach loyalty in so many aspects, and the buzziness of high-profile player movement is a way to generate interest in a still-uncertain younger fanbase.
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