The Seahawks pulled off a stunning trade to begin NFL cutdown day Saturday, acquiring Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker Jadeveon Clowney from Houston while sending a 2020 third-round pick and linebacker/defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin to the Texans.

A league source confirmed the trade to The Seattle Times — the NFL Network was the first to report the parameters of the deal. Clowney himself later essentially confirmed the deal with a tweet of a report about the trade and the words “GO TIME.”

The deal was almost immediately hailed as a major win for the Seahawks, not only in upgrading their pass rush — one of the team’s biggest question marks — but in getting Clowney at little cost. Seattle could have two third-round draft picks in 2020 — its own and a projected compensatory pick for losing Earl Thomas in free agency — while the Seahawks were perceived as likely to release Mingo, who was due to make $3.4 million in base salary in 2019. Martin, meanwhile, projected as a backup/rotational player after being taken in the sixth round in 2018.

But others also viewed it as an example of a top NFL player flexing his contractual muscle, Clowney having held off signing his franchise tag tender with Houston to get the kind of situation that he wanted, having made it clear he did not want to go to downtrodden Miami.

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Rumors of the deal broke early Saturday, with a league source confirming to The Times around 7 a.m. that the deal “is close” to happening, talks having progressed far enough that the deal was regarded as imminent, pending physicals for the players involved.

By mid-afternoon, Martin reportedly was already in Houston, and Clowney was said to be on his way to Seattle. The deal, though, would not become official until physicals are completed, which is why Seattle did not announce it along with the rest of its roster moves Saturday afternoon. But Clowney had signed his franchise tag, allowing for the trade to happen.


Seahawks QB Russell Wilson provided additional confirmation of the trade with a tweet Saturday morning featuring a picture of Wilson and Clowney shaking hands after a 2017 game in Seattle and stating, in part, “Welcome to the squad, bro!”

Clowney, 26, was the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft and has made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons and will add a pass-rushing complement to Ziggy Ansah, who the team signed as a free agent in the offseason. And pairing Clowney with Ansah will give a significant boost to a pass rush that had been regarded as one of the team’s biggest question marks due to the trade of Frank Clark to Kansas City last April as well as having to play the first six games of the 2019 regular season without tackle Jarran Reed, who was suspended in July for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.

Clowney, also a superb run defender, has 18½ sacks the past two seasons. Ansah, who made the Pro Bowl in 2015, signed a one-year deal worth up to $9 million in May. Ansah did not play in the preseason while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and then suffered a groin injury while conditioning early in camp. But he returned to practice last week, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the team expects him to be ready for the regular-season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 8.

Seattle could use Clowney at either its rush end/LEO position or as a five-technique defensive end spot. With Ansah out in the preseason, Seattle started Cassius Marsh at rush end and Quinton Jefferson at the five-technique end position. Seattle drafted L.J. Collier in the first round in April to also play the five-technique end position. But he did not play in the preseason due to a high-ankle sprain.

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Clowney gives Seattle four players on its front seven who have made a Pro Bowl: Clowney, Ansah and linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. There’s also linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has been a starter in the NFL since 2012, with Reed and emerging second-year player Poona Ford as tackles (with veteran Al Woods likely to start the first six games in Reed’s absence). Some NFL observers were quickly tabbing it as one of the best front sevens in the NFL.

As Seattle did with Clark, Houston placed a franchise tag on Clowney in March, hoping to then work out a long-term deal. Seattle couldn’t get one done and traded Clark to Kansas City with a third-round pick for a first-round pick in 2019 and a 2020 second-rounder.


Houston, meanwhile, had reached a stalemate with Clowney, who had not signed his tag or reported, and in the last week had begun to more seriously explore trade options. It hadn’t helped that the Texans had fired general manager Brian Gaine in June, shortly before the July 15 deadline to sign tagged players to long-term deals. Houston reportedly has had coach Bill O’Brien overseeing all personnel decisions. Clowney, meanwhile, earlier this week fired agent Bus Cook.

Miami was thought an initial favorite to land Clowney, but Clowney reportedly didn’t want to play for Miami, which is in rebuilding mode under first-year coach Brian Flores. Clowney essentially had veto power because he cannot be traded until he signed his tag (which he did later Saturday).

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Earlier in the week, reports said Clowney preferred to play, instead, for Seattle or the Eagles, of teams that were possible suitors.

Talks with the Seahawks were said to progress significantly Friday night and into Saturday morning after Clowney made it clear he would not go to Miami after the Texans and Dolphins spent much of the week negotiating (with Dolphins officials given permission to meet with Clowney).

Clowney will play the 2019 season on the terms of the tag, which will pay him $15.9 million with NFL rules prohibiting him from negotiating with the Seahawks until after the season. The Seahawks will have to take all of that $15.9 million on their 2020 salary cap — Seattle entered the day with just over $21 million in cap space. But Seattle will gain an additional $4.1 million in cap space trading Mingo to Houston, and Martin’s departure saves another $480,000 against the cap.

And a source said the uncertainty over Clowney’s future does not bother the Seahawks, who see Clowney as a potential finishing piece to a team that won 10 games last season and hopes this year to contend for the NFC West title and is in full “win-now” mode after re-signing quarterback Wilson and middle linebacker Wagner to contracts in the offseason that made them each the highest-paid players in the NFL at their respective positions.


The Seahawks are thought to think they can work out something contractually with Clowney after the season. But if not, they are thought to be content with the idea that they could tag Clowney again next year and potentially trade him — as they did with Clark — or let him walk as an unrestricted free agent and potentially get a third-round pick as compensation in 2021.

Clark eventually signed a five-year, $104 million contract with the Chiefs that included $43 million guaranteed at signing. Had he simply played on the franchise tag in 2019 for Seattle he would have been due $17.1 million.

Interestingly, Sports Business Journal reported Saturday that Clowney has reunited with longtime agent Cook. Cook is familiar with the Seahawks — among other things, he was the first football agent for Wilson before Wilson decided to have Mark Rodgers handle all of his agent affairs in 2014.

Speculation about a possible trade grew overnight when Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown — who is close with Clowney after playing with him in Houston from 2014 until Brown was was traded to Seattle in 2017 — posted a tweet at 11:22 p.m. Friday with six pairs of inquiring eyes.

Saturday morning brought confirmation that a deal, indeed, had been struck.