Cleveland Browns: Revisiting the Olivier Vernon trade one year later

On March 8, 2019, the Cleveland Browns traded away Kevin Zeitler to the New York Giants for Olivier Vernon in a trade that absolutely sucks in hindsight.

The Cleveland Browns shipped off one of the better offensive line pieces they had in 2019 to the New York Giants, in a player for player swap that saw Kevin Zeitler leave the Browns and head to the Giants for Olivier Vernon. Vernon was supposed to come in and change the dynamic of the defense dramatically.

He did, just not in the way people thought.

Vernon came in and was highly ineffective on the defensive front, racking up only 3.5 sacks in his first year in a Browns uniform and only playing in ten games due to injury. Now sacks aren’t a dead-set metric to measure a pass-rusher against, sometimes a good player can have misleading stats. That’s not what happened with Vernon.

Vernon never showed much efficiency, nor could he get off the block all that well. If he were a free agent signing, still bad but not as destructive of a move in hindsight. To be clear for some running with a narrative that the “offensive line wasn’t that bad”, yes it was. It was arguably the worst passing offensive front in football, and part of that had to do with the dispatching of Zeitler.

Zeitler was such a stabilizing force on that side of the line, that he helped raise the overall play of the entire line. The trust his teammates had in him, and his ability to shift assignments on the fly as needed made him uniquely valuable.

Now, one year later, Vernon is still on the team though many aren’t sure why. He’s not worth his contract, and his contract is already a non-guaranteed in 2020. Cutting him now wouldn’t hurt anything. You could also ask him to take a pay cut but that seems unlikely.. Even if he can bounce back, the price he’s at with the talent the team gave up for him, he’ll always be a bit of a bust of a player.

Cheers to another year of Cleveland Browns-levels of decision making.