Jadeveon Clowney has found himself a new home.
The Cleveland Browns signed the defensive end to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
This ends the long courtship of Clowney by Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry over the past couple of seasons. Berry was apparently pretty adamant on getting the former No. 1 overall pick during last offseason, but his multi year offer was ultimately turned down by Clowney, according to ESPN.
Clowney ended up signing a one-year, $13-million deal with the Tennessee Titans instead, which shows how much his value has depreciated after an injury-riddled and underwhelming 2020 campaign for the 28-year-old. He went to Cleveland for a visit last month but ended up returning home without a deal, sources told ESPN.
Berry’s tenacious determination eventually bore fruit, however, with the team’s announcement on Wednesday that the GM had finally got his man. Now, the Browns have three of the past seven No. 1 overall picks, joining QB Baker Mayfield and fellow defensive end Myles Garrett.
Safe to say Clowney is pretty darn excited to have someone of Garrett’s caliber—someone who dominates the offensive line’s attention and garners double-teams more often than not—playing opposite him.
“I’ve been getting double-teamed an awful lot in this league, in my career,” Clowney said in his introductory presser. “I’m looking forward to playing with somebody dominant on the other side in Myles Garrett who can draw a double-team. Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”
Considering the fact that Clowney had zero sacks last year and just three the year before, playing across from Garrett—who had 22 over the past two seasons roaming his side of the line—will almost certainly mean a lot of 1-on-1 matchups for the former Gamecock.
The wording of Schefter’s report on Clowney’s contract would lead one to believe that it is laden with incentives, meaning the base salary is probably closer to $7-8 million, which is quite a bargain considering the seven-year pro’s sky-high ceiling.
If Clowney ends up panning out across from Garrett, which is entirely possible, Cleveland’s +187 NFL odds to win their division become a great wager. With both the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers revamping their offensive lines and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson’s tendency to venture outside the pocket, two bookends like this on defense could wreak some havoc in the AFC North.
Clowney is hopefully (for Browns fans) coming out of a tough spell after bouncing around from Seattle to Tennessee and now Cleveland over the past three years. The Rock Hill, South Carolina native has shown flashes of what he can do, but he has only managed to stay healthy for a full 16-game season once in his career.
Several knee injuries as well as issues with his elbow, groin, and back among other things have kept him from reaching his full potential. Despite his ugly numbers, ESPN Stats & Information ranks Clowney as the fifth-best pass-rusher by pass-rush win rate (25%) over the past three seasons. His new partner-in-crime, Garrett, ranked just ahead of him in third, with a 26% win rate.
Not to mention Clowney’s ability to play as an interior or exterior lineman gives his game a ton of versatility, which is something Berry pointed out as a selling point for them with Clowney in a statement released by the team on Wednesday.
“We love his relentless style of play,” Berry said. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line and will pair nicely with many of the guys we have on the roster already. The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”
Cleveland also signed edge defender Takk McKinley last month, who is similar to Clowney in that injuries have kept us from getting the full view of what he can do. Head coach Kevin Stefanski seemed very excited about where their defensive line is after these moves.
“We’re excited to add Jadeveon to our defensive line,” Stefanski said in a statement released by the team on Wednesday. “He’s a disruptive force that will help us against the run and the pass. We’ve been able to make some nice additions to our defense throughout free agency and we are looking forward to getting to work, so we can improve our team.”
Clowney managed just 19 tackles and no QB takedowns for Tennessee last season before going down in November with a season-ending knee injury, but he said he has already moved past that injury.
“I feel great now,” Clowney said. “I’m looking forward to this season to prove to guys that I’m back healthy and I can still dominate in this league.”