Why Duane Brown trade means Seattle Seahawks going all-in now
The Seattle Seahawks are done playing musical chairs. They’re also done with the olé blocking of all the players they’ve trotted out at left tackle the past few seasons.
The team’s dramatic trade — and the high price — for Houston Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown shows a clear indication that Seattle isn’t messing around anymore. The Texans sent Brown, who held out for the team’s first six games amid a contract dispute, to the Seahawks for cornerback Jeremy Lane, a fifth-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2019.
This trade has a ton of tentacles to it. First, let’s start with Brown himself.
The 32-year-old former Pro Bowler wanted a long-term deal and was willing to stay away to make his point. Although Brown didn’t get his deal before returning to the Texans’ roster and was forced to miss out on more than $3 million in game checks in the process, he almost certainly will get that new contract with Seattle.
There also was the complication of the comments made by Texans owner Bob McNair at an owners-players meeting in New York City three weeks ago to discuss the anthem kneeling debate. McNair used a metaphor about “inmates running the prison,” a turn of a common phrase that many took either as a degredation of players in general or a plausibly racist putdown of a largely African-American player population.
Brown was one of the more outspoken Texans players against McNair’s comments after the team discussed walking out of practice when the news of it broke. We are told emphatically that Brown did not demand a trade, nor did his status change whatsoever following his criticism of McNair.
In fact, these two teams discussed a possible trade for Brown as far back as August, when projected Seahawks left tackle George Fant went down with a season-ending injury. The two sides couldn’t come to a deal then but did now.
The timing is interesting, with the Texans and Seahawks having just battled in one of the season’s finest shootouts. The Seahawks won, 41-38, but it was clear they had a problem with Rees Odhiambo trying to pass block Jadeveon Clowney and a run game that stalled anytime they handed the ball off.
For the Seahawks, who have always been aggressive with player trades, this is a clear win-now trade. For years, they’ve tried to Band-Aid the dam and ask OL coach Tom Cable to work minor miracles.
That has netted uneven results at best in the past, and this season they’ve survived the major weakness at the position to this point. But now they have a great pass protector for Russell Wilson and have to be considered Super Bowl contenders, if they were not already. Brown should fold right into the Seattle locker room; he was college teammates with Kam Chancellor in the mid-2000s.
Brown had spent his entire 10-year career with the Texans, and it opens up a position that has been locked in for almost that entire time. But Chris Clark is getting healthy again, and fourth-round pick Julie’n Davenport — who replaced Brown for a handful of snaps on Sunday — also could factor in. Brown played his first game of this season and the final game of his Texans career against the Seahawks and was mostly excellent.
The move clears salary-cap space for the Texans, gives them a veteran corner in Lane to add depth at that position and helps them recoup another pick in 2018, as well as the higher 2019 selection.
The Texans had dealt their first- and second-round picks in 2018 in the separate trades involving Deshaun Watson and Brock Osweiler, but they also are expecting multiple compensatory picks in return for losing A.J. Bouye, John Simon, D.J. Swearinger and Quintin Demps in free agency this offseason.
Can they protect Watson effectively and run the ball? That remains to be seen. But they appeared to get good value for a player who no longer seemed to want to be there.
As for the Seahawks, they do not currently have a second-round pick in 2018 or in 2019. They traded the 2018 pick for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and the 2019 pick for Brown. Those two moves — plus the presence of Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Brown and a typically strong defense, outside of Sunday’s shootout — are a clear sign that the Seahawks are taking their swing for the fences for the Super Bowl this year.
You have to admire the bravado of Seahawks GM John Schneider. You also can understand why the Texans and GM Rick Smith might want to move on from Brown and why Brown had had enough of Houston.