The Miami Dolphins have re-engaged with the Houston Texans to explore the possibility of making a trade that would bring Jadeveon Clowney to Miami, and consider themselves the leader in the sweepstakes to land the pass rusher.
The Dolphins recently visited with Clowney, who met multiple persons within the organization, as part of a recruiting effort of sorts to get the player to accept a trade to Miami. Part of this effort included a meeting with coach Brian Flores.
The effort, by the way, was necessary because sources say Clowney was at least initially not in love with the idea of coming to Miami. The Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday Clowney prefers to be traded to the Philadelphia Eagles or Seattle Seahawks. The Dolphins believe that following their meeting with Clowney that has changed to some degree.
This is a stunning departure in what has become an ongoing negotiation between the Dolphins and Texans because two weeks ago the Dolphins had decided to back out of the Clowney sweepstakes altogether based on the Houston asking price that included at least one first-round pick.
The Dolphins at the time balked because they are expecting to use their first-round pick next year and possibly the next couple of years (in a package) to draft a quarterback.
But multiple sources say the teams now have a more clear idea what a potential trade would look like, and it does not include a first-rounder next year going from the Dolphins to Houston. This makes the deal more palatable for the Dolphins.
It remains unclear what exactly the Dolphins would offer, or more importantly, give for Clowney because such a trade can be basically a two-year rental if the team cannot get the player to sign a long-term contract.
Multiple Miami players have been mentioned in trade rumors the past couple of days including wide receiver Kenny Stills and linebacker Kiko Alonso. Such a deal could also include later and conditional draft choice considerations.
Despite this, no trade is certain.
No deal can be consummated before Clowney signs his one-year, $16 million franchise tag, which he has yet to do. The Dolphins would presumably want the former No. 1 pick here long-term, but cannot sign him to an extension until after the season.
Complicating matters: Clowney has parted ways with his agent Bus Cook and does not currently have representation. He presumably will want one in place before he gives up his leverage and signs his tender.
Despite all this, the Dolphins are seemingly at the head of the pack of teams trying to land Clowney because they believe their meeting with him went very well and so far they are the only team that has met with him.
Part of that meeting included the Dolphins laying out their vision for what they hope to be in the future. Clowney apparently came into the meeting with apprehension of what the Dolphins are likely to be short-term, in 2019, with a roster that lacks an obvious star quarterback.
The Dolphins are currently at least $26 million under the salary cap, and that makes them well suited to take on the full weight of Clowney’s franchise tag which they would have to take on in a trade.
Clowney, 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, was the first overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has been good but not great for the Texans.
He started only 11 games his first two seasons as he battled injuries and acclimated to the NFL game. He collected only 4.5 sacks those first two years.
But he has had 18.5 sacks the past two seasons and has played 31 of a possible 32 games. Clowney has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons.