The Miami Dolphins trade talks with the Houston Texans for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney have prominently included the idea of the Dolphins improving their defensive front while the Texans have been pushing for a way to improve their offensive front.
And that’s the reason the Texans have been focused on getting left tackle Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins, according to multiple sources.
Tunsil, entering his fourth NFL season, was the Dolphins 2016 first-round draft pick and has started every game he’s played for Miami. He is considered the cornerstone of Miami’s offensive line and perhaps Miami’s only elite offensive player right now.
The Houston Chronicle reported late Wednesday evening the Texans have had trade discussions for Clowney with five teams -- Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, the New York Jets, as well as Miami -- but that the most significant talks have been with the Dolphins.
The Miami Herald reported two days ago the Dolphins consider themselves the leader in the sweepstakes to land Clowney.
Clowney has met with and visited multiple members of the Dolphins organization, most prominently coach Brian Flores.
And the fact the Dolphins-Texans talks have advanced well beyond any discussions the Texans have had with any other team and the Texans granted permission for Clowney’s visit speaks to the strong possibility the Dolphins are willing to part with Tunsil.
Trade rumors involving Tunsil are not new. But last week the Herald reported the Dolphins recently told the Tunsil camp they are not dangling him in any trade discussions.
And while it might be true the Dolphins are not actively shopping Tunsil, the Texans have been actively discussing his availability and have made him the primary reason for talking with Miami.
One more thing: A Jadeveon Clowney for Laremy Tunsil one-for-one trade is not an even trade. That exchange favors the Texans because while the two players are roughly equivalent in value, their contract situation is not.
Clowney is Houston’s franchise player and is under a tag costing roughly $16 million. Any team acquiring him cannot sign him to a multi-year deal until next offseason -- assuming he’s open to that idea. Even then, Clowney would want to be paid among the highest pass rushers in the NFL.
And there’s always the uncertainty that Clowney would not sign a contract at all.
Tunsil, meanwhile, is in the final year of his rookie contract which costs Miami only $3.963 million against the cap. And next season he is under team control via the fifth-year option that costs $10.3 million.
So the Dolphins effectively would be trading away the certainty of a player under team control for at least three seasons -- by employing a franchise tag in 2021 -- versus a player under a one-year $16 million franchise tag.
It is for that reason, according to one source familiar with the trade discussions, that the Texans would have to send the Dolphins other considerations in a trade involving Tunsil for Clowney.
And the consideration the Dolphins have been focused on are a draft pick or multiple picks. The source would not disclose the value of those picks.
Under this scenario the Dolphins would send Tunsil for Clowney and a draft pick or picks.
None of this means a trade is imminent. Clowney has been reticent about signing his franchise tag tender and cannot be traded until he does so.
And the reason he hasn’t signed it is because he wants to keep leverage in what team he is dealt to. Multiple news outlets have reported Clowney prefers to go to teams that expect to compete for the playoffs. That does not include Dolphins, who are in a rebuilding program.