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Houston Texans agree to trade away Jadeveon Clowney, add Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills

Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills (pictured above) will head to the Texans as Houston reshapes its roster (Nick Wass/AP Photo)

The Houston Texans don’t even have a general manager. But that didn’t stop them from remaking their roster and shocking many throughout the NFL on cutdown day.

They agreed to a pair of blockbuster trades, one of them sending defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks and the other giving a king’s ransom of draft picks to the Miami Dolphins for left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills.

The Dolphins will receive two first-round draft picks and a second-round choice as part of the deal that sends Tunsil and Stills to Houston. That moves puts the Texans firmly in win-now mode and should aid what appears to be a rebuilding process in Miami.

Earlier on Saturday, the Seahawks fortified their defensive front and took advantage of the Texans’ curious handling of Clowney’s contract standoff. That trade sent Clowney, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end and former top overall selection in the NFL draft, to Seattle for two players and a third-round draft pick next spring.

The trade agreements were confirmed by people familiar with the deliberations. The deals came with NFL teams facing Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline to reduce their rosters to 53 players for the regular season.

The Texans are operating without a permanent general manager after firing Brian Gaine in June and being rebuffed in their reported effort to lure highly regarded front-office executive Nick Caserio from the New England Patriots. The absence of a permanent GM has increased Coach Bill O’Brien’s authority in shaping the team’s roster. But there was room to wonder Saturday whether the Texans had given up too much for Tunsil and Stills and gotten too little in return for Clowney.

The addition of Tunsil gives the Texans a reliable left tackle. Stills is coming off a 37-catch, 553-yard season. He also drew attention recently for being publicly critical of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross once Ross agreed to hold a fundraiser for President Trump. Stills, one of the relatively small number of NFL players who continued to protest during the national anthem last season, said that was inconsistent with Ross having a foundation formed to use sports to improve race relations.

But the Texans are paying plenty: their next two first-round picks and a second-rounder in 2021. And the Dolphins are stockpiling draft choices. They now have four first-rounders and four second-rounders in the next two NFL drafts. In this trade, the Texans also receive fourth- and sixth-round draft choices from the Dolphins, while Miami adds two Texans players, offensive tackle Julie’n Davenport and cornerback Johnson Bademosi.

In addition to the third-round draft choice, the Texans receive defensive end and linebacker Barkevious Mingo and linebacker Jacob Martin in the Clowney trade. Clowney, the No. 1 choice in the 2014 NFL draft by the Texans out of South Carolina, had refused to sign his franchise deal and report to Houston. The one-year deal is worth $15.967 million for Clowney.

The Texans had been exploring trade options for Clowney, and the Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles also were speculated to be in the mix. Clowney reportedly did not want to play for the Dolphins and had some control over the situation because he had to sign his franchise deal to be traded, under NFL rules. He also reportedly had been willing to report recently to the Texans and play this season under his franchise player deal but changed his mind after learning of the possibility that he’d be traded.

Mingo is a former first-round draft pick who had one sack last season for the Seahawks and has 10 sacks in his six NFL seasons. He’s joining his fifth NFL team after stints in Cleveland, New England, Indianapolis and Seattle. Martin is a second-year player who had three sacks and nine tackles for the Seahawks last season as a rookie after being drafted in the sixth round out of Temple.

By failing to trade Clowney before the July 15 deadline for NFL teams to sign franchise-tagged players to long-term deals, the Texans limited his value on the trade market. Any team trading for him would be adding a player eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring, without the ability to immediately sign Clowney to a multi-year contract extension.

When the Seahawks, in contrast, traded their franchise-tagged defensive end, Frank Clark, to the Kansas City Chiefs in April, they received first- and second-round draft picks. Those two teams also exchanged third-round choices and Clark was signed to a lucrative new contract by the Chiefs.

So the Seahawks essentially are adding Clowney as a replacement for Clark in their formidable defensive front seven, in what amounts to a masterful move by General Manager John Schneider and Coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks potentially could recoup the draft choice they surrendered for Clowney, in the form of a compensatory draft pick next year if he leaves in free agency after one season.

Clowney totaled 18 1/2 sacks over the past two seasons but has not developed into the dominant pass rusher he projected to be when he was drafted. But he has become a superb all-around defender who has been selected to the past three Pro Bowls.

This post has been updated.

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