RENTON, Wash. — All Duane Brown was trying to do initially was be a good friend.
Brown, the Seahawks’ left tackle, has gotten a fair share of credit for helping sell Jadeveon Clowney on agreeing to be traded to Seattle. Clowney essentially had veto power after not signing his franchise-tag tender with Houston.
The two were teammates in Houston from 2014 until Brown was traded from the Texans to Seattle in 2017, and Clowney considered Brown a trusted source on what it might be like to become a Seahawk once that idea started to become a reality.
“Talked to Duane Brown and he said he loved it up there,’’ Clowney said Monday, roughly 48 hours after the trade was completed.
“Like a month ago I was just talking to him and I was like, ‘Duane, how you like it up there?’ He called and I was like, ‘Bro, what do you think?’ He said you need to come play with us. You would love it here. Great weather, it’s not hot like Houston. Great fan support, other great teammates on this team. Come be part of something great. I was like, ‘Man, you know what? I’m going to try to look into that and try to get in there with you guys.’ ”
It all happened like each hoped when Clowney on Saturday was traded to Seattle for defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin and a 2020 third-round pick.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Brown said Wednesday.
Brown, though, also revealed that his talks with Clowney actually started long before there was even a thought that Clowney might get traded to Seattle.
Like Clowney, Brown was traded by Houston to the Seahawks in the midst of a contract dispute. Brown held out the first seven games of the 2017 season before being dealt to Seattle, and he hoped to share that experience first with his former-and-current teammate.
“I had just been keeping in touch with him throughout the offseason because I had been in a similar situation with my contract dispute and just checking in with him making sure his head was good and he was in good spirits and working hard without any knowledge that this could even take place,’’ Brown said.
It was actually Clowney who then made the first call to Brown about Seattle, Brown said.
“He just hit me up randomly about a month ago and just asked me, just started asking questions about the place, about the team, and I just told the truth,’’ Brown said. “I just told him how I felt here, my experience here, about the culture, about the staff, about the team, about the locker room, and you know from there he just said, ‘Man, it sounds like somewhere I would love to be.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you would love it.’ And from there things just kind of started to progress.’’
As was revealed later, the Seahawks first talked with the Texans about Clowney before the draft last April. Apparently around the same time, Clowney got slapped with a tag by Houston, and Seattle did the same with Frank Clark.
Clowney’s call to Brown likely came with some knowledge of Seattle’s interest, and Clowney’s understanding of how he could basically steer his own course.
While rumors began to swirl last week of Seattle’s involvement in the talks, the first real inkling that something serious was happening came via a Brown tweet late Friday night of six sets of inquiring, surprised eyes.
The tweet got the attention of not just Seahawks fans and local media but even Pro Football Talk, which speculated in a post at 4:54 a.m. PDT that it meant something was up with Clowney and Seattle.
“I was a little premature,’’ Brown said with a laugh, saying he only intended to “have a little fun. … I didn’t think as many people would look into it as they did, but man was I wrong. I think I caused a lot of people to lose some sleep that night, and I’m sorry for that. But it worked out.’’
Indeed, Brown sounded Wednesday as if he can hardly believe the Seahawks’ good fortune to end up with not only Clowney, but also now an apparently healthy Ziggy Ansah, who has returned to practice after missing the preseason. The two are listed as starters at defensive end, giving Seattle two former Pro Bowlers to infuse a pass rush that in the midst of the trade of Clark loomed as one of the team’s biggest question marks.
Brown practiced against Clowney for three and a half seasons in Houston and echoed what Clowney said Monday: Seattle’s plan to use him as an end in a 4-3 rather than as a hybrid end/linebacker in a 3-4 (and having to at times drop into pass coverage) should be the best use of his skills.
“I think obviously you can drop him into coverage,’’ Brown said. “But that is something you want — getting after the passer. And I think when he is totally focused and committed to that, I think 10 sacks is easy.’’ (Clowney’s career-high is 9½ in 2017.)
And pairing those two with a defense that includes a veteran trio of linebackers such as Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, and a tackle rotation that includes emerging second-year player Poona Ford and eventually will get back Jarran Reed?
Well, let Brown’s words speak for how excited he is.
“It’s scary, man, it’s scary,’’ Brown said. “I think it just got real. It just got real for other offenses (in the NFL), and I’m looking forward to it.’’