The cap casualties just keep on rolling in. This time it’s the Browns getting in on the action, with Cleveland announcing they’ve released veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
The team will save about $3MM in cap space for 2021 with the move. The 20th overall pick of the 2011 draft, Clayborn had just spent his first season with the Browns. He signed a two-year, $6MM contract with Cleveland in April of last year. He started two games and appeared in 15 in 2020, racking up 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.
Clayborn started his career with the Bucs, then went to Atlanta in 2015. He had his best season with the Falcons in 2017, when he had 9.5 sacks. He went to New England the following year, and won Super Bowl LIII with the team, before returning to Atlanta in 2019.
The Browns continue to add role players to their defense. They have agreed to terms with veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
The parties reached an agreement on a two-year, $6MM deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding the pact’s max value is $7MM.
Clayborn worked as a part-time player for the Falcons in four of the past five years and won a Super Bowl with the 2018 Patriots. He makes sense as a rotational cog who could work behind Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon.
Playing 42% of the Falcons’ defensive snaps last season, Clayborn graded as a top-40 edge defender last season (per Pro Football Focus). He saw action on more than 50% of the Falcons’ snaps from 2015-17 and topped out in ’17 with a 9.5-sack season, aided by a six-sack day against a Cowboys team missing Tyron Smith.
The 2020 season will be Clayborn’s age-32 campaign. Formerly a Buccaneers first-round pick, Clayborn has 36.5 career sacks and 10 forced fumbles. Five of those strips have occurred since 2017. Clayborn registered at least 13 quarterback hits each year from 2015-18 but, despite collecting four sacks, tallied just seven QB knockdowns last season.
The Falcons are signing Adrian Clayborn, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The defensive end will return to Atlanta on a one-year deal worth up to $4MM.
This marks a homecoming for Clayborn, who spent 2015-2017 with the Falcons. In his final Atlanta season, Clayborn registered a career-high 9.5 sacks, but his 2018 follow-up with the Patriots (2.5 sacks) was not quite as impressive.
In mid-March, the Pats cut him loose. The Patriots used Clayborn as a pass-rushing specialist and employed him in 14 regular season games. All in all, he played in 30% of the team’s defensive snaps last year, but he was a healthy scratch in the final two contests of the season.
Even if he’s lost a step, Clayborn fills a need for the Falcons on the defensive line.
The Patriots cut AdrianClayborn on Friday. The defensive end broke the news himself on Twitter and indicated that he requested his own release.
“Thank you Patriots for my time with the organization,” Clayborn wrote “I gained so much respect for how you do things and win championships. It’s done the right way through hard work. Thank you for granting my release. I’m ready for this next chapter.”
The Patriots used Clayborn as a pass-rushing specialist and employed him in 14 regular season games. All in all, he played in 30% of the team’s defensive snaps last year, but he was a healthy scratch in the final two contests of the season. Following a 9.5-sack campaign with the Falcons in 2017, the veteran’s counting stats took a step back in 2018. Clayborn ultimately finished the season with 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
By releasing Clayborn, the Pats will save roughly $4MM against the 2019 cap. The move will leave New England with $2MM in dead money.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com does not believe that there will be any tension between Carson Wentz and Nick Foles this year, but he does say that Foles is universally loved in the Eagles‘ locker room. Given that, and given that Foles led the club to its first Super Bowl victory in the wake of Wentz’s ACL tear last season, Shorr-Parks suggests that there is at least a small part of Wentz that feels the need to “re-prove himself” to his team. Shorr-Parks wonders if that desire will impact how quickly Wentz returns to the field and how he interacts with his veteran backup this year.
Let’s round up a few more east notes, starting with several additional items out of Philadelphia:
In the same piece linked above, Shorr-Parks says “it appears obvious” that the Eagles do not plan on paying DE Brandon Graham until next offseason at the earliest. Graham will be eligible for free agency at that point, but he is still seeking a long-term extension from Philadelphia prior to that, and Shorr-Parks’ suggestion is somewhat surprising in light of the fact that the Eagles were said to be working on a new contract for Graham in November (and in light of Graham’s on-field performance).
Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com evaluates the Giants‘ top positional battles going into OTAs, and he believes the fight for the backup QB job is the most intriguing. Second-year pro Davis Webb has a stronger arm than rookie Kyle Lauletta, but Lauletta receives high marks for his intelligence and accuracy, plus he was drafted by Big Blue’s new regime. Whoever wins the job will be the favorite to ultimately succeed Eli Manning.
It is unclear whether RobGronkowski will report to the Patriots for Phase 3 of the team’s offseason program, which begins tomorrow, though Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says Gronk is still putting in plenty of time at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center, which he says has him feeling good from a conditioning perspective. Phase 3 will be the last chance for Gronkowski and TomBrady — who is also yet to attend OTAs — to get some multiple-week football work in with the majority of their teammates before training camp. Brady has frequently touted the importance of Phase 3, so it would be notable if he does not attend.
Adrian Clayborn, the Patriots‘ top free agent acquisition this offseason, tweaked his quad during recent workouts, per Reiss. Clayborn could be limited for Phase 3 of OTAs, but he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
The Patriots’ drafting of former LSU quarterback Danny Etling in the seventh round of last month’s draft signaled an end to any chance of the team taking a chance on free-agent quarterback Johnny Manziel, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Reiss believes the team did its due diligence in scouting Manziel’s comeback attempt, including attending his workout at the University of San Diego pro day this year. The team even considered holding an additional workout for him outside of the pro day, per Reiss.
The Patriots traditionally carry three quarterbacks and by drafting Etling they’ve reached that number, with Tom Brady as the starter and Brian Hoyer backing him up.
Here’s more from the Patriots:
Former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has continued in his role with the Patriots following the conclusion of the draft, per ESPN’s Field Yate, and Yates also reports that he’s expected to be involved in coaching duties as the team begins its rookie minicamp Monday. Brett Bielema was fired as head coach of Arkansas last November after coaching the team for five seasons.
Adrian Clayborn has playing-time incentives written into his two-year, $10-million contract that are worth up to $1.5 million, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Clayborn can make $300,000 f0r playing up to 55 percent of the team’s snaps, $300,000 for 60 percent, $400,000 for 65 percent and $500,000 for 75 percent. Volin notes, though, that Clayborn never played more than 52 percent of the snaps during his first last three seasons with the Falcons.
We learned earlier Sunday that Patriots guard Joe Thuney is expected to undergo foot surgery but is expected to be back in time for training camp.
Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently signed NFL contracts:
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Jaguars): Two years, $10MM. $4MM guaranteed. $3.21MM signing bonus. $500K 2019 option bonus. $500K annually available via catch, playoff, and touchdown incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
Adrian Clayborn, DE (Patriots): Two years, $10MM. $5.5MM guaranteed. $4MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe).
The Patriots made a big splash in free agency on Friday, reaching an agreement with the veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets. The player made the announcement on Friday via Instagram.
It is a two-year deal with a maximum value of $12.5MM, according to Schefter (Twitter link).
New England can use all the pass rush help it can get, as the club ranked 31st in adjusted sack rate a year ago. Clayborn can help with that, as the 29-year-old managed a career-high 9.5 sacks in 2017. However, Clayborn famously posted six of those sacks in one game against overpowered Cowboys left tackle Chaz Green.
Earlier in free agency, Pro Football Rumors listed help along the front seven as the most pressing need for the Patriots entering the 2018 offseason. It’s safe to say they began to fulfill that need on Friday with this signing.
A first-round selection in 2011, Clayborn spent four seasons in Tampa Bay making 13 sacks. He missed nearly two full campaigns with injuries. He moved to Atlanta and became a solid contributor on the Falcons defensive front, helping them reach Super Bowl LI against his new team.
New England can use all the pass rush help it can get, as the club ranked 31st in adjusted sack rate a year ago. Clayborn can help with that, as the 29-year-old managed 9.5 sacks in 2017. However, Clayborn famously posted six of those sacks in one game against overpowered Cowboys left tackle Chaz Green.
While the Patriots appear to be Clayborn’s first free agent visit, he is not wanting for overall interest. The Colts, Buccaneers, Browns, and the incumbent Falcons are all eyeing a pact with Clayborn, who — unsurprisingly — is being targeted by clubs that run predominantly 4-3 schemes.
Many of this year’s top free agents came off of the board during the legal tampering period, including Kirk Cousins, Trumaine Johnson, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson. Still plenty of the names from our list of the Top 50 Free Agents remain, including some new additions. Here’s a rundown of the players to keep an eye on as free agency officially begins, ranked roughly by their expected contract value:
1. Ndamukong Suh, DT (Dolphins): The Dolphins bailed on Suh’s mega contract midway through, freeing him up to sign another high-priced contract. He won’t get anything close to a six-year, $114MM deal this time around, but he should settle in at an AAV that keeps him among the best compensated players at his position. Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked Suh fifth among 122 interior defenders.
2. Tyrann Mathieu, S (Cardinals): The Cardinals worked feverishly to hammer out a new contract with the Honey Badger, but the two sides could not come to terms on a deal to lessen his 2018 cap hit. He has been released, allowing him to hit free agency as the best safety available. The Jets are not believed to be interested, despite his connection with head coach Todd Bowles. The other tenant of the Meadowlands, however, could have interest thanks to the presence of former Arizona DC James Bettcher.
4. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe missed out on a big payday last year when teams shied away from him due to lingering back issues. After turning in his second consecutive 16-game season, things could be different this time. For the record – Poe has missed only two regular season games over the course of his career, so he boasts a better attendance record than a lot of other veterans on this list. He’s unlikely to circle back to Atlanta.
6. A.J. McCarron, QB (Bengals): It’s difficult to peg McCarron’s value heading into free agency. Outside of some quality starts in 2015, there isn’t much film out there on McCarron, despite that fact that he has spent four years in the NFL. Hue Jackson was itching to reunite with McCarron, but the Browns no longer seem a likely destination for him after the acquisition of Tyrod Taylor. It’s also hard to see him landing with the QB-needy Jets after they re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater. McCarron will find a home, but it may not be as a starter. [UPDATE: McCarron has signed with the Bills]
7. E.J. Gaines, CB (Bills): Injuries in the fall limited Gaines to just 11 games last season, but he proved to be a quality return for the Bills in the Watkins trade, in addition to the second-round pick that came with him. Gaines graded out as the No. 13 cornerback in the league last year, per PFF, and he just turned 26 in February. Gaines missed all of ’15 due to injury and didn’t look all that sharp in ’16, but timing is everything in free agency. You can expect multiple teams to call on him and the Texans could still have interest, even after inkingAaron Colvin.
8. Eric Reid, S (49ers): Reid is just 26 and is undoubtedly a starting quality safety. He has both youth and versatility on his side, but it’s possible that his anthem protest participation could hurt him when it comes to some suitors. Injuries over the last two seasons will hurt his market as well.
11. Kenny Vaccaro, S (Saints): With the ability to play both safety and slot cornerback, Vaccaro will have a fair amount of suitors. Analytics-focused teams might not high on him after he ranked as the worst coverage safety in the league, according to PFF.
13. Ryan Jensen, C (Ravens): Jensen stepped into a starting role in 2017 and flourished, grading out as the No. 9 center in the NFL, per PFF. The former sixth-round pick also has previous experience at guard. The Jets were widely speculated to be a suitor, but they addressed their needs by signing Spencer Long instead. He has visits lined up with the Bucs and Colts.
14. Jack Mewhort, G (Colts): Mewhort’s season ended prematurely in October thanks to a knee injury, marking his second straight incomplete campaign. That’s not a great way to enter the open market, but he did have three quality years as an NFL starter before that. Mewhort doesn’t turn 27 until October, which helps his case.
17. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Jets): AS-J rebounded from personal issues to post the best season of his career with the Jets. He was impressive at times, but he is no better than the No. 3 TE in this year’s free agent crop. He’ll meet with the Seahawks and Jaguars. No word yet on whether the Saints, who missed out on a Jimmy Graham reunion, have any interest.
18. Tyler Eifert, TE (Bengals): Once one of the NFL’s brightest stars at tight end, Eifert has been limited by a host of injuries. You can expect Eifert to ink a one-year deal somewhere with a low base and ample incentives.
19. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Redskins): Pryor found himself disappointed by the 2017 free agent market, but that paled in comparison to the disappointment felt by the Redskins after signing him to a one-year deal. Pryor will benefit from a shallow WR crop, however. He is on the Browns’ radar, so a return to Cleveland is possible.
24. Demario Davis, LB (Jets):Davis wants $8-$10MM per year, but he’ll get about half of that. [UPDATE: Davis is off the board after signing a three-year, $24MM deal with the Saints, so he achieved his yearly goal after all. The deal includes $18MM guaranteed.]
25. Jordan Matthews, WR (Bills): Injuries held Matthews back in 2017, but he’s not far removed from posting 73 receptions for 804 yards and three touchdowns with the Eagles.