RENTON, Wash. — The deal that brought Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks came down to the wire, according to coach Pete Carroll, and had been on general manager John Schneider’s radar for several months before it was completed over the weekend.
In between, an important phone call from Duane Brown helped make it happen.
Brown selling Clowney on the city and the team helped the Seahawks land the Pro Bowl pass-rusher, capping off an eventful six months during which he was franchise-tagged by the Houston Texans, stayed away from them as he sought a long-term deal and met with the Miami Dolphins before Seattle won out.
“Phew,” Clowney said when asked how crazy the process that led him to Seattle has been. “Very crazy.”
He spoke with reporters Monday, having taken off the No. 91 jersey that he wore during his first practice with the team, one number higher than what he wore for his five seasons in Houston. Carroll said Clowney is in line to play in Sunday’s opener against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals.
“He’s a rare football player,” Carroll said of Clowney, who has made three consecutive Pro Bowls and totaled 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons. “He’s got special skills that most guys just don’t have. It’s great quickness, his reaction time, the length that he can use, his ability to run, his instincts. He’s made a lot of plays in the backfield over the years, instinctive plays, penetrating and causing problems, and we plan to allow him to do that in our scheme. It’ll fit really well with what we’re doing. We saw a great fit whether it’s third down or early downs. So he’s pretty much got what you’re looking for.”
It was about a month ago that Clowney got a call from Brown, his teammate in Houston from his 2014 rookie season to when Brown was dealt to Seattle at the trade deadline in 2017. Clowney asked Brown how he likes it in Seattle.
“He was like, ‘You need to come play with us. You’ll love it here. Great weather. It’s not hot like Houston. Great fan support. Other great teammates on this team. Come be a part of something great,'” Clowney recalled. “I was like, ‘Man, you know what? I’m going to look into that, try to get up there with you guys.'”
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is pleased to have added “proven players to the roster” despite giving up three high draft picks.
And as a franchise-tagged player who had yet to sign his tender — meaning he wasn’t under contract and couldn’t be traded until he was — Clowney had a great deal of say about where he would end up. That was the idea all along.
“I just really tried to take control of what I could control, as far as where could I play at and how could I be traded, as far as that,” he said. “I was just taking that into consideration. It was like, ‘If I don’t sign the tag, maybe I could decide where I end up going,’ and I got somewhere I wanted to be. That’s what happened.”
In addition to Brown giving his recruiting pitch, he gave the Seahawks his stamp of approval on Clowney. Specifically, Carroll said Brown vouched for Clowney’s work ethic, the subject of questions earlier in his career.
“Without question, Duane helped us through the process in making us know who we’re dealing with and the player he used to practice against and his capabilities, potential habits, background, family,” Carroll said. “We really had a lot of insights because of Duane.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Texans gave Clowney a $7 million signing bonus and that the Seahawks are paying him only an $8 million salary. Carroll confirmed Schefter’s report that the Seahawks agreed not to franchise Clowney, 26, at the end of this season, calling it something they had to do to get the deal done. He lauded Schneider’s persistence in pursuing Clowney and the job he and vice president of football administration Matt Thomas did in completing the trade with all the moving parts surrounding the Saturday afternoon deadline for teams to set trim their rosters to 53.
“There was about 20 seconds before 1 o’clock [Sunday],” he said. “It was right to the nub. We’re a long ways away from Houston, and a lot of stuff could happen in between, and really, we’re all sitting in the office up there. J.D. is there and his agent and Matt and John and I, and we’re sitting there looking at the clock, waiting for the word to come back. So it was really, there was a lot of drama to it. So it was fun that we were able to pull it off, and really, we didn’t know right until the very end.”
Clowney cited the appeal of playing with Russell Wilson as a factor in wanting to join the Seahawks, along with getting to play end in Carroll’s 4-3 defense. Clowney — listed on Seattle’s roster at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds — said he can put on weight knowing he won’t have to drop into coverage against tight ends as he frequently did as an outside linebacker in Houston’s 3-4.
Carroll said there’s “no question he’s really in good shape” based on what he has seen from Clowney so far. Clowney trained for the bulk of the offseason in Miami and more recently in Houston.
“I know that Jadeveon was really concerned about being ready for this season coming up,” Carroll said. “He would tell you he put together the best offseason he’s ever had. … He was really healthy going through the process with the physical and all that kind of stuff, so he’s in great shape in that regard. Everything is really positive.”
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Carroll said there is “without question” a chance Clowney remains a part of Seattle’s plans beyond 2019. Clowney punted on that when he was asked about it, saying he isn’t thinking that far ahead.
“I’m still trying to figure out where the cafeteria is at and where the locker room is,” he said with a laugh. “It’s all confusing.”
Clowney’s first priority: getting up to speed in Seattle’s scheme in time to play Sunday, when he’ll line up on the opposite end from fellow newcomer Ziggy Ansah, provided neither player has any setbacks in practice this week.
When asked if he could have imagined his situation working out better than it did once he decided he wanted out of Houston, Clowney offered a clarification.
“I don’t think I decided that,” he said. “They decided that. I didn’t have no say-so in that. I just held the cards of where I end [up] playing at. They decided to get me out.
“But like I said, I’m thankful for the opportunity I had in Houston. They drafted me No. 1 overall. Great opportunities down there. I met some great guys on that staff and great, great teammates. I’m just glad to be part of this team now. I’m just trying to look forward. I ain’t looking back.”
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