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Two major trades rocked the NFL landscape on Saturday, as the Houston Texans dealt Pro Bowl edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks and, in a separate move, acquired 2016 first-round left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills from the Miami Dolphins. Around the NFL’s Jeremy Bergman dissects the deals and identifies who won and who lost.
Jadeveon Clowney: Bravo. After Houston’s front-office follies resulted in the three-time Pro Bowler not receiving a contract extension commensurate with his perceived worth, Clowney worked his way out of a bad situation and toward a potentially more lucrative future. Utilizing the Le’Veon Bell playbook, Clowney bet on himself and refused to sign the roughly $17 million franchise tag, leaving the Texans without any assurance that he’d return for the 2019 season. When he didn’t like the way contract and trade talks were going with Houston’s front office, Clowney axed his longtime agent, Bus Cook (who Clowney reportedly has since rehired). Shortly thereafter, word leaked that the edge rusher had no interest in playing for the Miami Dolphins, with whom Houston was attempting a trade, and was willing to miss regular-season games as he waited for a resolution. Only when Clowney played his unique leverage right did he get what he wanted: to play for a contender and one who may be more willing than the Texans to sign him long term.
Plus, as an unintended consequence of not receiving the extension he wanted this offseason, the former first overall pick might just get paid like the star edge rusher he is after all. With star pass rushers like Trey Flowers, Frank Clark, Dee Ford and DeMarcus Lawrence all receiving mega-extensions over the past several months, Clowney’s floor for a long-term contract should start at around $20 million a year.
The concept of self-determination in football: We don’t often see evidence of such blatant self-determination in football like we do in other pro sports. In a star-driven league like the NBA, for example, superstars determining their desired locations in free agency is an annual rite. Think Kevin Durant to the Warriors in 2016, or LeBron James to the Lakers in 2018, or Paul George to the Clippers in 2019 or … well, K.D. again this summer, this time to the Nets. Free agency in the NBA feels like free agency. In the NFL, that’s far more uncommon due to multiple factors, including the current CBA. A team can control a first-round pick like Clowney for up to seven years (fifth-year option, two franchise tags) without giving him an extension. That is, unless the player is willing to sacrifice a year’s pay as Le’Veon Bell did last season, and as it appeared Clowney was willing to do this year.
By not signing his franchise tag, Clowney was willing to give up around $1 million per week to not play football. When Houston gave him permission to speak with the Dolphins as a potential trade partner last weekend, an offended Clowney was reportedly “adamant” that he not be traded to Miami, and that actually meant something! For Houston to even trade Clowney for parts, the defensive end needed to sign the franchise tag it handed him. Clo
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