RENTON -- After holding out for the entirety of training camp and helping to orchestrate a trade to Seattle over the weekend, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is excited by his new opportunities with the Seahawks.
Seattle acquired Clowney on Saturday in a trade with the Houston Texans that saw them send linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin, plus a 2020 third-round draft pick, to the Texans in exchange for the three-time Pro Bowl selection.
“Whew! Very crazy," Clowney said Monday after his first practice with the Seahawks. "I got a call late night (Friday) saying ‘hey, come to Seattle.’ I was like alright, I’m excited for it. It was 1 o’clock. I packed up and got as much stuff as I could and headed this way, but I’m looking forward to this fresh start here.
"I’m glad it’s over. The whole process of being traded and everything. I’m glad I could be a part of this team here and get going on a new journey.”
Clowney had been staying away from the Texans during training camp after failing to reach a long-term contract with the team prior to the start of training camp. Houston had placed the franchise tag on Clowney in March, which guaranteed him a salary of nearly $16 million for the 2019 season. However, the two sides couldn't reach an agreement prior to the July 15 deadline and Clowney elected to hold out to preserve himself prior to the start of season.
Clowney had planned on reported to the Texans for the start of the regular season. However, he changed course when he found out the team had been exploring possible trades during his absence.
“See, I don’t think I decided that. They decided that. I didn’t have no say so in that," he said.
Once he heard that the team was trying to trade him, Clowney they made sure he utilized the leverage he had while holding out from the team. Any trade reached for Clowney by Houston would require Clowney to first sign his franchise tag in order to be completed. Clowney could effectively negate any trade while his holdout continued.
"I just held the cards of where I ended up playing at," Clowney said. "They decided to get me out. 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 a part of this team now and look forward. I’m not looking back.”
Clowney put his leverage to use by forcing his way to Seattle. He was also able to get the Seahawks to agree not to use the franchise tag on him following the 2019 season.
Clowney spoke with Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown a month ago to get a sense for what Seattle is all about and decided it's the place he wanted to play. Brown and Clowney were teammates together in Houston for three-plus seasons before Brown was traded to Seattle in 2017.
"I was just talking to him and I was like ‘Duane, how do you like it up there?’ He called and I was like ‘bro, what do you think?’ And he was like 'you need to come play with us. You would 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’ and I was like ‘man, you know what, I’m going to try to look into that and try to get up there with you guys,'" Clowney said.
"I want to win," he said. "I want to go to a Super Bowl. I'm trying to be a part of something special."
Clowney's addition helps alleviate some of the concerns about the team's pass rush. While Ezekiel Ansah has a proven track record as a pass rushing threat, no other defensive end on the roster has proven they can get to the quarterback with regularity. Clowney and Ansah together now provide more firepower from the defensive line than the team was anticipating having at their disposal.
“It’s what you’re looking for," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We brought Ziggy in here with really high hopes that he can factor in because of his intensity and how tough he is when he plays and he’s been productive. And then he has this marvelous talent too to go along with his style of play. JD has really very similar abilities and traits. Those guys are like bookends, you know. They’re just exactly what you’re looking for on the edge so I’m hoping we’ll be able to see these guys come together and really be a factor and be able to play off of one another and complement each other.”
Clowney was excited by the prospect of returning to a 4-3 defensive alignment with Seattle as well. Clowney had been an outside linebacker in Houston's 3-4 scheme the last five years. That role included times when Clowney was asked to drop into pass coverage instead of focusing more on getting up field to pressure the quarterback. He believes the 4-3 scheme Seattle plays could serve as a better fit for his skills.
“It’s just different," Clowney said. "I get to get back in there going vertical and not dropping. Just really putting my head down and grinding. When you’re going forward you don’t think about a lot. That’s the best thing about this defense is you’ve got guys behind you that can make all the plays and guys up front we just get moving and get going and cause havoc. So that’s what I like about this.”
Clowney says he intends on playing Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals even if he will only have four practices under his belt before beginning his sixth season in the NFL.
“I hope so! I’m practicing," he said. "If you practice, you play. I’m just taking it one day at a time and put my best foot forward and go and give everything I got to this team.
“We’re trying to get in shape, man. Football shape. We (Clowney and Ansah) ain’t been on the field in a while so trying to get in that football shape because Week 1 is here. Trying to get ready to go.”
Carroll said the mechanics of getting the trade completed came all the way down to the wire on Saturday ahead of the 1 p.m. roster deadlines. Now that Clowney is a part of the roster, Carroll couldn't help but gush about the player they had just acquired.
"He’s a rare football player," Carroll said of Clowney. "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 and it will fit really well with what we’re doing. We saw a great fit, whether it’s early downs or third down stuff. He’s pretty much got what you’re looking for.”
Photo Credit: RENTON, Wash. Defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (No. 91) and Ezekiel Ansah (No. 94) work through team stretching drills ahead of the start of practice on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019. Clowney was acquired in a trade from the Houston Texans on Saturday. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)