Had things gone a little differently earlier this week, the Houston Texans might’ve been opening the 2020 NFL season on Thursday night with a familiar face back on their defense. According to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the team attempted to re-sign Pro Bowl pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney prior to the veteran joining the rival Tennessee Titans — and partly in an effort to stop Clowney from staying in the AFC South.

It’s unclear whether the two sides engaged in actual contract talks or if Clowney even considered returning to the team that drafted him No. 1 overall back in 2014, per Florio, but the Texans at least contacted the former All-Pro prior to his final decision to sign with Tennessee.

“The thinking was,” Florio explained, “that the Texans not only recognized his potential value to their defense but also realized what he’ll do for the Tennessee defense,” which Houston faces at least twice a year.

Apparently that dual strategy was also utilized by other teams that pursued Clowney in recent weeks, per Florio: The Seattle Seahawks, who acquired Clowney via trade prior to 2019 but reportedly had several contract offers rejected, did not want to face the defensive end as a member of the New Orleans Saints, who reportedly made a strong push for the free agent in the lead-up to the season; and the Baltimore Ravens, who reportedly tried to orchestrate a sign-and-trade agreement to land Clowney from the Jacksonville Jaguars, apparently didn’t want to face Clowney as a member of the Titans.

Clowney, of course, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Texans, earning three Pro Bowl trips as a starting pass rusher for Houston. Upon reported disagreements in long-term contract talks while under the club’s franchise tag last summer, Clowney was dealt to Seattle just before the start of the 2019 campaign.

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