The coach shipped out what became a third-round pick for running back Duke Johnson, who had 820 scrimmage yards and five total TDs.
O'Brien swapped spare parts for running back Carlos Hyde -- perhaps his best move -- and watched the RB become his lead back, galloping across the 1,000-yard barrier.
O'Brien then traded that pick obtained in the Clowney trade to get corner Gareon Conley, who ended up starting six games in Houston. And he plucked Vernon Hargreaves off waivers and plugged him in as the nickel back solution.
"I think that those moves did pay off," O'Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. "Those guys came in, without mentioning each guy specifically, but I do believe that those guys came in and really entered into our culture of what we're trying to do, learned the systems, tried to go out there and those guys played well. I'm sure there's always plays that each one of them wish they could have back, but I think that those guys helped our team win this year, when we won.
"I think any move we make, we try to think about the long term. Now, you could probably pick and choose some moves where maybe contractually it doesn't seem like it's long term, but within the building and within the meeting rooms, we think about it more for long-term purposes as we move forward here. I think all those guys came in and contributed."
The moves, however, left the Texans with only five draft picks, before compensatory selections are added. Owning few bites at the apple to remake a defense that badly needs help will put a heavy onus on Houston brass.
Whether you believe getting to the Divisional Round was a success, or ultimately a failure for O'Brien likely depends on your natural bend. The coach doesn't believe his team would have gotten that far without all those moves.