The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be going in on Jadeveon Clowney, which is actually the right call as long as certain prerequisites are met.
The Cleveland Browns are currently the front runner for defensive end free agent Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney’s a first overall draft pick for the Houston Texans, and despite never posting a double-digit sack season, has become a sought after name in free agency due to his versatility, athletism and ability to impact the rushing and passing attacks.
The Texans drafted Clowney back in 20014 but traded him to the Seahawks after negotiations on a contract extension failed to materialize. Currently, the Titans and Jets are interested in him, as well as the Browns and his former team the Seahawks.
Despite Clowney being traded by his original team, and his lack of double digit-sack seasons, Clowney actually makes perfect sense for the Cleveland Browns. Like in Houston, alongside the star of the defense, J.J. Watt, Clowney was a productive player. Myles Garrett is the closet thing in football to a Watt, besides a Watt, so it’d stand to reason that Clowney’s best chances of having a great year would come with a player like Garrett on the other side of Clowney. Yet, despite dropping his asking price from $20 million to $17 million, Clowney still is overpriced.
That doesn’t mean that $15 million a year couldn’t get the deal done.
Now, to be clear, in an ideal world Clowney would sign for around $11 million a year, but he won’t, probably, so overspending is a necessity. Luckily, the Browns have about $15 million in basically dead cap money in Oliver Vernon. Cutting, or restructuring his deal completely would allow the team to go get Clowney without tapping the salary cap dry.
There is a reason to keep Vernon if he agrees to less money. If the Browns resign him for less and go get Clay Matthews III, that would actually revamp the defense completely. Vernon’s best year was as an outsider in the Giants 3-4 defense, so a rebound with a position shift could be possible. While the 4-3 demands different criteria for the front seven, Vernon could play that role. For at least two downs anyway. Heck, maybe even a third down, if he can show he’s still a good-enough pash rusher. If Vernon can be retained for a few million dollars, that’s the way to go, assuming Clowney comes in under his $17 million asking price.
Clowney, regardless of when, why or how much, could be a huge asset for the Browns, but keeping him to a short deal is paramount. He’s unlikely to max out his stat-sheet at this point, and there’s no good reason to pay a player $70-some odd million for four years when you know he won’t live up to that deal.
A two or three-year deal, worth no more than $50 million total. That’s what I’d sign Clowney for. Let’s see if that’s what the Browns end up doing. If they sign him at all, that is.