Olivier Vernon is staying put. The Browns worked out a new deal with the defensive end to turn his $15.25MM non-guaranteed pact into $11MM guaranteed with the potential to earn an additional $2MM via incentives (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
Vernon’s guarantees come in the form of a $3.75M base salary, $7MM signing bonus, and a $250K workout bonus. The new deal also ensures that he’ll be eligible for free agency following the 2020 season. Vernon now has a “no-tag” clause, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), giving him an opportunity to cash in all over again.
The Browns have been in talks with Jadeveon Clowney for months, but they’re now poised to stick with Vernon as their starting DE, opposite Myles Garrett. Last we heard, Clowney rejected the Browns’ offer of a one-year deal in the $15MM range. Instead of bumping the offer up towards Clowney’s $17-$18MM asking price, they’ve retained Vernon for far less.
Vernon posted just 3.5 sacks last year, but the advanced metrics were fairly fond of his work. And, before Vernon came to Cleveland, he managed 22 sacks over the course of three years with the Giants, despite a good deal of missed games. In his last Giants campaign, he averaged four pressures per contest – the Browns would be very happy with a reprise of that in 2020.
There’s now one less landing spot for Clowney, though Jon Gruden and the Raiders have reportedly come into the mix. Meanwhile, Clowney is far from the only big-name DE on the open market – Everson Griffen, Markus Golden, Ezekiel Ansah, and Michael Bennett are still available for teams in need of edge help.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.