Clayton: Clowney trade sets Seahawks up to challenge Rams in NFC West
The Jadeveon Clowney trade may have turned the Seattle Seahawks into a 10- or 11-win team that can challenge the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West.
After Seattle traded defensive end Frank Clark to Kansas City just ahead of the NFL Draft, the Seahawks were a team devoid of a pass rush. Then when Seattle lost Jarran Reed for the first six games of the season to a suspension, it became a team that was missing 23 1/2 sacks from last season. Now they have two Pro Bowlers at defensive end: Clowney and free-agency addition Ziggy Ansah.
It may take a few weeks for Clowney and Ansah to get everything together on the pass rush because neither spent any time on the field in training camp, but they have the talent to cause opposing teams – and quarterbacks – major problems.
Think about what Seattle general manager John Schneider did by waiting for the right deals to come along. For the amount of money Clark was scheduled to make as a franchise tag player, the Seahawks now have two Pro Bowl pass-rushers and grew their number of draft choices from four to 11, nine of which made the team’s 53-man roster while the other two on are the PUP list.
The Seahawks were also able to add Al Woods, who can start at defensive tackle until Reed returns. And if defensive tackle Poona Ford lives up to the training camp hype and turns out to be a breakout player, the defensive line looks strong.
With Mychal Kendricks at linebacker along with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, the Seahawks have four Pro Bowlers in their front seven. And then in the secondary, safety Bradley McDougald was a Pro Bowl alternate last year.
What makes the Clowney trade look so one-sided for the Seahawks is that there was a decent chance Seattle might have cut Barkevious Mingo, who was sent along with fellow defensive end Jacob Martin and a 2020 third-round draft pick to Houston for Clowney. In the past several weeks Mingo struggled both in practices and preseason games to get to the quarterback. Martin was coming on as a pass-rusher but still has a long way to go.
The third-round pick Schneider gave up for Clowney could be replaced in 2021 with a third-round compensatory pick if Clowney or Ansah go to another team in free agency. So even if Clowney is just a one-year rental, the Seahawks are covered and have become that much better of a team this year. Plus, the Texans are paying $7 million of Clowney’s $15.9 million salary.
The big theme in Saturday’s roster cut down to 53 was the Seahawks going young. They kept undrafted defensive tackle Bryan Mone over veteran Earl Mitchell. They might use rookie Ugo Amadi as the slot cornerback after cutting veteran Jamar Taylor. If not, Akeem King will get the assignment.
Cutting veteran Jaron Brown was a big surprise because he was one of only two experienced receivers healthy enough to play in the opener, but Seattle signed him back Monday when a roster spot was created by tight end Ed Dickson going on injured reserve. David Moore is out a couple of weeks with a fractured humerus bone and DK Metcalf is iffy for the opener following knee surgery, so the Seahawks still lack depth at receiver.
Getting back to the Clowney trade, it helped the offense that the Seahawks didn’t have to give up a starting offensive lineman to get the three-time Pro Bowl DE. The Seahawks were getting thin along the offensive line because of injuries, so if the Texans wanted Justin Britt or Germain Ifedi, Seattle may not have been able to afford giving one of them up.
It was a surprise the Seahawks cut fullback Nick Bellore, who is great on special teams and can block. But there was a bonus for Schneider in that the New York Jets cut third-round pick Jachai Polite, an outside linebacker who could have been a first-round consideration for some teams. Now he’s signed to Seattle’s practice squad.