And it’s even more of a Seahawks steal than we thought.
The NFL on Sunday approved Seattle’s trade acquiring pass rusher and 2014 first-overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney from Houston. As known Saturday, the Texans get defensive end Jacob Martin, defensive end Barkevious Mingo and a third-round draft choice from the Seahawks.
Martin has promise but is a second-year, part-time player. Seattle was likely to cut Mingo after his poor preseason, to save the team $4.1 million against its salary cap for this year.
A huge upgrade for a needy defensive line without giving up a front-line player nor a top draft choice? That’s a huge steal for the Seahawks.
Now comes Sunday’s good news for Seattle: The Texans are paying Clowney $7 million this year to play for the Seahawks.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, terms of the trade includes Houston paying a $7 million signing bonus to Clowney, who had been a holdout through the preseason. That’s to get Clowney to finally sign his tender as a franchise player so the Texans could then trade him.
The Seahawks are paying the remaining $8.97 million of his salary for 2019—not all his $15.97 million, as initially assumed.
That makes this an even sweeter deal for the Seahawks.
It makes it Grand Theft Clowney.
Seattle also agreed as part of the trade not to put the franchise tag on Clowney in 2020, according to Schefter. That means Clowney is either going to get a megabucks new contract from the Seahawks after this season, or through free agency next spring.
The trade becoming official also brought Geno Smith back to the Seahawks to be the backup quarterback to Russell Wilson. More on why in a minute.
How did Clowney, 26, get all this leverage over the Texans, leaving them to make a deal that is getting them panned across the football world for how one-sided it is for Seattle?
Thanks to Le’Veon Bell.
The former Pittsburgh running back held out the entirety of the 2018 season by refusing to sign the Steelers’ franchise-tag tender. Bell showed star players across the league the benefits of not dutifully playing a year under the tag, which though guarantees money at an average of the top five salaries at his position restricts a player from even bigger riches in free agency. After his idle year, Bell signed this offseason with the New York Jets.
Players learned if you don’t sign the tender you are not under contract. Any attempt the tagging team may make to trade you to rid itself of a problem is subject to the tagged player approving the trade.
That’s what happened with Clowney. The Texans were talking to Miami and the Dolphins were making left tackle Laremy Tunsil available. That appealed to Houston, which needed a left tackle and has since it traded Duane Brown to the Seahawks two years ago.
But Clowney didn’t want to go to Miami. He wanted to go to Seattle.
The Texans, wanting to rid themselves of the distraction of Clowney’s holdout and not wanting to lose him for only a compensatory draft choice during free agency next spring, had next-to-no leverage in negotiating with the Seahawks. To them, it was worth $7 million to get two pass rushers plus the draft pick to send Clowney to Seattle.
He joins new end Ziggy Ansah as the Seahawks’ new bookend pass rushers.
It’s a Seahawks steal even if it’s only a rental of Clowney for this season, because of the low cost they paid in dollars and players sent away to get him.
How did Smith factor into all this?
The Seahawks released the veteran quarterback Saturday as part of the final cuts of the preseason. That left them with Wilson as the only quarterback on the 53-man roster. Because the trade had yet to become official, Seattle set its initial regular-season roster to include Mingo and Martin and not Smith.
Because Smith is a vested veteran, he did not have to pass through waivers. He technically became a free agent Saturday—but with a handshake agreement from the Seahawks that they would sign him back after the trade was official. Without waivers, the Seahawks did not have the risk of another team claiming Smith before they could bring him back.
Once the trade became official Sunday, Seattle had 52 players; they traded Mingo and Martin and added Clowney, a net of minus-one player; the maximum of 53 players briefly had become 52 on the roster. The Seahawks then announced later Sunday afternoon they had re-signed Smith to get back to 53 players.
That advanced roster maneuvering from Seahawks general manager John Schneider left the Texans wholly out-maneuvered.
More veterans return
The return of previously released Seahawks veterans continues.
First it was Smith, who re-signed to be the backup quarterback to Russell Wilson a day after Seattle released him in a roster shell game Saturday. Then Monday, wide receiver Jaron Brown came back, re-signing after Seattle did the expected and put tight end Ed Dickson on injured reserve.
Just before practice Monday the Seahawks announced they had re-signed Nick Bellore to be the only fullback on the roster for Sunday’s opener against Cincinnati. Seattle had also released him Saturday.
Seattle waived linebacker Austin Calitro. He became expendable this spring after the team drafted two rookies, Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven, who can do what Calitro did last season for Seattle: backup Bobby Wagner at middle and K.J. Wright and potentially Mychal Kendricks at outside linebacker.
Waiting until now to put Dickson on injured reserve makes him eligible to be one of the two IR players each NFL team can designate to return after eight games each season.
Practice squad taking shape
The Seahawks announced two more signings to their practice squad Monday: linebacker Jachai Polite, a rookie third-round draft choice waived Saturday by the New York Jets, and Kyle Fuller. Fuller can play center or guard.
The other six players so far on the 10-man practice squad: wide receivers Jazz Ferguson and Terry Wright, Hollister, cornerback Simeon Thomas, guard Jordan Roos and offensive tackle Elijah Nkansah. They are players they released Saturday who then cleared league waivers and were put on the practice squad Sunday.