RENTON — Until now, there’d really been nothing substantial tying the Seahawks to disgruntled Houston Texan defensive end Jadeveon Clowney other than the always-rampant NFL rumor mill.
That changed Tuesday with a report out of Houston that the Seahawks are one of two teams that Clowney “prefers’’ as “potential destinations” if he is traded by Houston, with whom it appears he no longer wants to play — the Philadelphia Eagles being the other.
But the report, from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, noted also that the Miami Dolphins are “very interested’’ in trading for Clowney, who has yet to report or sign his franchise tag while in a contract dispute with the team, and which has led to Houston exploring trade options for a player who was the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
And as Tuesday progressed, there appeared to be more signs that, for now, the Dolphins are the leader in the race to get Clowney with other teams — such as the Seahawks — apparently only re-emerging if things do not work out with Miami.
Those reports included one from the Miami Herald late Tuesday afternoon that stated the Dolphins believe themselves to be the frontrunner to get Clowney and that Miami appears more willing to do a deal now that Houston apparently is not requiring that a first-round pick be part of the picture, which had been the breaking point in earlier dealings between the teams.
Multiple reports stated that Clowney had met with Miami coach Brian Flores and other Dolphins officials in recent days as part of what the Miami Herald stated was “a recruiting effort of sorts to get the player to accept a trade to Miami.” The Herald reported that the Dolphins feel that their meetings with Clowney have made him more amenable to a trade to Miami.
Teams have to receive permission to talk to players in this situation and as of Tuesday afternoon, the Seahawks were said to have not been given permission to talk to Clowney.
The report of Miami’s discussions with Clowney also came at the same time that it was revealed that Clowney has also fired his agent, Bus Cook.
The NFL Network reported that “Clowney was unhappy with the state of talks about his future, leading to the breakup’’ with his agent.
Clowney has 18.5 sacks in 31 games over the last two seasons and has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the last three, and could help provide the Seahawks (or any other team) with the kind of pass rush they had last season with Frank Clark. Clark was traded to Kansas City, however, after he also had been placed with a franchise tag and with Seattle then determining it did not want to sign him to a long-term deal.
But any team trading for Clowney would also have to deal with a sticky contract situation.
As NFL.com recently reported it: “The pass rusher has yet to sign his franchise tag. Until he reports to Houston and signs the tender, Clowney cannot be traded. He can also not be fined for missing time. With the July 15 deadline to strike a long-term deal passed, Clowney cannot sign a multiyear contract with the Texans — or any other team — this season, but could attempt to negotiate off of the one-year tender.’’
But, discussions such as those Miami is having with Clowney, would undoubtedly include trying to get a sense of whether he would agree to a long-term deal, and what it would take.
Clowney’s franchise tag would pay him $15.97 million this season, which all has to go on a team’s salary cap.
The Seahawks are listed as having an effective cap space of just over $20 million for the 2019 season by OvertheCap.com. But the Seahawks could create some cap space by releasing veterans, notably defensive end Barkevious Mingo, which would save $4.1 million.
And also, any team wanting to trade for Clowney has to present a package that Houston finds worthwhile. The Texans could just continue to hang on to Clowney into the regular season until the trade deadline of Oct. 29.
There has been speculation that as well as picks, the Texans want some active players, and preferably on the offensive line, with a team that has expectations of winning now behind quarterback Deshaun Watson (though Miami is thought not wanting to include tackle Laramy Tunsil in any deal).
But Houston may also be on the market for a running back with Lamar Miller out for the season after suffering an ACL injury on Saturday.
Seattle has some running back depth with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny as its top two tailbacks and players such as C.J. Prosise, Travis Homer, Bo Scarbrough and J.D. McKissic as potential backups.
But for now, it appears anything related to Clowney is going to begin with Miami and go from there.