#5 – DE/OLB Olivier Vernon
The trades with New York will go down as some of the biggest blunders in recent Browns history and depending on what happens with Odell Beckham Jr. could be the absolute worst moves in franchise history. Olivier Vernon is the key cog in these two trades that so far make a lot of fans have buyers’ remorse.
Vernon was never a huge force in the pass-rushing game, arguably just good enough to be considered a pass rusher, but never truly great. He’s a smaller and slightly quicker version of Jadeveon Clowney at his peak. A guy who’ll probably never top double digits but across from a better option (in Clowney’s case, J.J. Watt) could be a great compliment. In baseball terms, he’s a number two starting pitcher, a slot wide receiver on the offense end or a great off the ball scorer in basketball.
That’s at his peak. Vernon was not at his peak in 2019. In fact, Vernon’s been living off his 2013 season where he had 11 sacks. He’s been injured, unproductive at times and highly overpaid. The good news is that he’s in the last year of his deal, meaning he’s an option to be traded to a team not looking at eating a big cap hit on a specific player with a lot of years left. Vernon could stick around and play out his contract but the odds are that he’ll be relegated to the bench if the Browns can acquire a player or two on defense who can pass rush.
Finding a way to get rid of his $15 million against the cap without eating any of it would be impressive, but that seems more like a pipe dream than anything.