As more details emerge, the final hours of the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes were wild, and the Seattle Seahawks described the franchise as in it the “whole time.” The Saints were one of the top contenders for Clowney, and Sean Payton flew to Houston on the eve of his decision to try to convince the pass rusher to come to New Orleans.
What is more surprising is the kind of trade the Saints attempted to pull off given their limited cap space. The Saints were willing to trade a high draft pick for a team with cap space to sign Clowney then immediately trade him to New Orleans, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The trade most likely would have been conducted with the Browns, not the Seahawks.
“The sides discussed parameters of a deal in which Team X would’ve signed Clowney to a one-year, $15 million contract and paid him a $5 million signing bonus,” Rapoport explained. “Then, Team X would’ve immediately traded Clowney to the Saints, who would’ve sent Team X a second-round draft pick, as well as a player to take additional salary off New Orleans’ books. The Saints would’ve paid Clowney’s remaining $10 million salary.”
The NFL Was ‘Unlikely’ to Approve the Saints Trade
The Saints could point to deal like the Browns acquiring Brock Osweiler’s contract as a potential pathway for the league’s blessing. Rapoport added that the deal “fell apart” after the NFL informed the Saints they would be “unlikely” to approve the potential Clowney sign-and-trade.
“Fundamentally, you can’t trade cash,” a team executive told NFL.com.
For the next few years, the Saints are in a very difficult cap position, but that did not stop the franchise from turning over every stone in their pursuit of Clowney. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Saints approached some of their current players about restructuring their deals to make room for Clowney.
“The Saints have been talking to agents for players currently on the roster to see if they can restructure some deals in the coming days, sources say,” Garaolo tweeted. “The NFLPA currently has them at under $7m in cap space. So they’re working to create room in case they sign Jadeveon Clowney.”
Sean Payton Flew to Houston to Recruit Clowney
Payton and several other members of the Saints flew to Houston to meet with Clowney. The pass rusher’s chef A Taste of Chef Ash noted on Instagram that she cooked for Clowney along with Payton and “two additional New Orleans Saints coaches.”
“Major shoutout to my client @Clowney_90 for the opportunity to cook for Sean Payton and two additional New Orleans Saints coaches,” A Taste of Chef Ash explained. “They were going out to dinner but he suggested His Chef prepare dinner for them. They absolutely loved EVERYTHING.”
The post’s location was tagged as Pearland, Texas, which is located about 30 minutes south of Houston. She also posted several photos of the dinner which included creole crab cakes, a fresh berry salad, grilled ribeye steak and loaded garlic mashed potatoes.
Despite the massive spread, Clowney committed to sign with the Titans less than 24 hours later. As for the Seahawks, Pete Carroll explained the team’s thought process in the final hours of the Clowney sweepstakes.
“You know I talked to him throughout the process and stayed with him,” Carroll noted in his press conference, via Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree. “We had really good, amicable conversations about things and he was just waiting the whole time. He had his sights set really high to start with and it just put him in a situation where he had to wait it out, and he didn’t get near the amount that he wanted, as it turned out. Our offers and stuff early on didn’t look attractive to him because he had his mindset elsewhere. I don’t know. It was just a pretty normal process but he just wasn’t ready to make a call early on.”