Jadeveon Clowney had leverage when it came to choosing a trade destination, and after talking to Seahawks left tackle and former Houston Texans teammate Duane Brown, the Pro-Bowl defensive end realized that Seattle was an attractive destination.
"I talked to Duane Brown and he said he loved it up here," Clowney said. "Great quarterback, great system. Just want to be part of this organization.
"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.'"
"I think more about winning than anything, because I want to go to the Super Bowl," Clowney added later. "This team has been there, this staff has been to the Super Bowl and they know what it takes, they know how to get there. I'm just trying to be part of something special. Whatever I can do to help, that's what I'm here for."
A month or so after that initial conversation with his former teammate, Clowney was on the practice field with Brown following the trade that sent him to Seattle for a 2020 third-round pick and Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.
In Clowney, a three-time Pro-Bowler who is a former No. 1 overall pick, the Seahawks added a player they expect will make a big difference for their defense.
"He's a rare football player," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's got special skills that most guys just don't have. It's great quickness, his reaction time, the length that he can use, his ability to run, his instincts. He has made a lot of plays in the backfield over the years, instinctive plays, penetrating and causing problems, and we plan to allow him to do that in our scheme. It'll fit really well with what we're doing. We see a great fit, whether it's early downs or third-down stuff. He's pretty much got what you're looking for."
While Clowney had not been practicing with the Texans, he and Carroll both said the expectation is he'll be on the field Week 1 against the Bengals. And while it will be impossible for him to learn everything there is to know about Seattle's defense in one week, Carroll said, "Can he know enough to be effective? I think so. We're counting on that."
One element of Seattle's defense that Clowney is looking forward to is a return to a 4-3 defense that will see him play end as opposed to being an outside linebacker in Houston.
"It's just different," said Clowney, who also played in a 4-3 defense at South Carolina. "I get to get back in there going vertical, not dropping. Just really putting my head down and grinding. When you're going forward, you don't think about it a lot. That's the best thing about this defense is you've got guys behind you that can make all plays and guys up front just getting moving and get going and cause havoc. That's what I like about this."
And having played in Seattle in 2017, Clowney is aware of the home-field advantage that the Seahawks, and the defense in particular, enjoy at CenturyLink Field.
"This fanbase is probably the craziest I've ever played in front of," Clowney said. "Those are things I like, and now I'm glad I get to go on the opposite side of it, get to experience that while I'm out there on defense and I know it's going to help us out on defense when you hear that crowd yelling. The offense has the silent cadence. You get to see that tap, you get off that rock. I'm looking forward to that, being part of that."
And while the addition of a player like Clowney would be a big boost for a defense on its own, what really has Carroll excited is the prospects of pairing him with Ziggy Ansah, another Pro-Bowl defensive end who the Seahawks signed in free agency earlier this year.
"I could talk to you for a while about that," Carroll said. "It's what you're looking for. We brought Ziggy in here with really high hopes that he could factor in because of his intensity and how tough he is when he plays, and he has been productive. Then he has this marvelous talent too to go along with his style of play. Well JD has really very similar abilities and traits. Those guys are like bookends. They're just exactly what you're looking for on the edge, so I'm hoping we'll be able to see these guys come together and really be a factor and play off of one another to complement each other."
Photos from Monday's Seahawks practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.