Jadeveon Clowney

AFC Rumors: Jaguars, Williams, Van Roten, Leonard, Browns, Griffin III

After the Jaguars fired former head coach Urban Meyer, it became public that Jacksonville had no intentions of paying Meyer the remaining money on his contract, as he was being fired for cause. There was speculation at the time that the parties may follow existing precedents and negotiate a settlement in order to avoid a legal situation.

According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation informed the columnist that, to date, the two sides have been unable to strike a settlement agreement.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC, starting with a rumor out of South Beach:

  • The Dolphins should have plenty of options for their offensive line configuration, but it most likely hinges on what they do with interior offensive lineman Connor Williams. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami isn’t quite sure what to do with Williams, working him at center and left guard over the past three weeks. The good news, is that it gives them plenty of options. With Terron Armstead solidified at left tackle and Robert Hunt solidly at right guard, Williams could fit at either position. If you put Williams at left guard, the team would likely have Michael Deiter start at center and leave Liam Eichenberg and Austin Jackson to compete for the starting right tackle job. If you start Williams at center, Eichenberg can slide in to the left guard job and Jackson can man the right tackle position.
  • The Jets recently released guard Greg Van Roten. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, head coach Robert Saleh claimed that they released Van Roten because they believe he has the potential to start for other teams in the league. His release is meant to allow him to find those teams that would provide him a starting opportunity. Saleh was quoted saying they’d “love to have him back,” if he fails to find such opportunities.
  • Colts linebacker Darius Leonard had ankle surgery in June last year before the season. The surgery helped him to get healthy for the season, where he played every game but one and was named a first-team All-Pro for the third time in his career. While the ankle is still ailing him, Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star reported that Leonard says the ankle is better now than it was at this point last year. This is an encouraging sign for Leonard and a scary message for the other teams in the AFC South. Leonard has been named to an All-Pro team every year of his career while being nagged by his ankle ailment. A healthy Leonard is a dangerous weapon for opposing teams to have to game-plan against.
  • With the return of free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry seeming less and less likely, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com believes the Browns will be able to push a bit harder now for free agent pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney to return. Cabot points out that drafting UAB pass rusher Alex Wright makes the need to sign Clowney a little less urgent, but also mentions that fellow pass rusher Myles Garrett wants Clowney back, which could help his case. Cabot claims that, if the two parties can’t agree to a new deal, Cleveland will consider former Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes instead.
  • We’ve all seen Rich Eisen of NFL Network run the 40-yard dash for charity. Well, this year, former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III, currently an analyst for ESPN, participated and reportedly was clocked at 4.48 seconds. Mike Florio of NBC Sports reports that on Eisen’s show, Griffin made the claim that some teams took notice of his impressive run and reached out to him. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any teams have offered to bring him back to the NFL, but Griffin has publicly stated his desire to return to football in the past, even claiming that his contract with ESPN would allow him to sign with an NFL team if the opportunity presents itself. Griffin last spent time in the league as Lamar Jackson‘s back up on the Ravens. He filled in multiple times leading many to wonder if he still had the ability to lead an NFL offense based on his brief appearances.

Latest On Jadeveon Clowney, Jarvis Landry

Despite adding a pass rusher and wideout in the draft, the Browns could still re-sign defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Speaking to reporters, Browns GM Andrew Berry said the team’s draft decisions wouldn’t preclude them from re-upping the two veterans, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Veteran Browns reporter Tony Grossi echoed that sentiment (on Twitter), saying the Browns continue to target Clowney and a receiver.

We heard last month that a Cleveland return was still in play for both Clowney and Landry. However, the organization obviously couldn’t rely on either player returning, so they selected UAB defensive end Alex Wright with the No. 78 pick and Purdue wide receiver David Bell with the No. 99 pick.

Clowney, 29, has famously never landed a long-term contract as a veteran, going from a 2018 fifth-year option to a 2019 franchise tag to one-year deals with the Titans and Browns in the following years. Playing opposite Myles Garrett, Clowney registered nine sacks last season. He played with Watson for two seasons in Houston.

The Browns still have interest in bringing back Landry despite releasing him earlier this offseason in a cost-cutting move. Landry’s five-year Pro Bowl streak stopped after the 2019 season, and he finished with a career-low 570 receiving yards last year. When Watson is available in 2022, the Browns should feature superior aerial capabilities.

Browns Eyeing Pass Rush Additions

The Browns have already made two of the most significant moves this offseason, trading for Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper. That has led to optimism they can contend in the AFC as they hoped – but failed – to do last year. One of the biggest remaining weaknesses on the roster, though, is at the edge rusher position. 

It comes as no surprise, then, that CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes that Cleveland is looking to add to their edge group. Specifically, he states that the Browns “want to beef up the pass rush”, adding that he “figure[s] they will”. Finding a long-term compliment to Myles Garrett has been an ongoing process in recent years.

The latest attempt to do so, of course, was the signing of Jadeveon Clowney. Brought in on a one-year deal, he enjoyed a far more productive season than the one he spent the year prior in Tennessee. In 14 games, the former No. 1 pick registered nine sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. As a result, the team has left the door open to a return.

If Clowney isn’t brought back, Cleveland could turn to other veterans such as Trey Flowers, Jason Pierre-Paul and Melvin Ingram in free agency. As a result of the Watson trade, their top pick in this month’s draft is 44th overall; while intriguing edge options will still be available at that point, those likeliest to make an immediate impact will be off the board by that point.

The Browns still rank near the top of the league in terms of cap space, so a notable move at the position remains a distinct possibility. Regardless of how it is made, any addition could help maintain their defense’s top-ten ranking in sacks from last season, and relatively strong overall performance.

Browns Restructure Amari Cooper’s Contract; Jarvis Landry, Jadeveon Clowney Returns In Play

Despite authorizing a Deshaun Watson contract with guarantees well beyond uncharted NFL territory, the Browns still carry some of the most cap space in the league. They are prepared to use the additional funds to bring back familiar faces.

The Browns restructured Amari Cooper‘s contract Saturday, moving the bulk of his $20MM base salary into a signing bonus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This created $15MM in cap space for Cleveland, which sits second in the NFL with more than $36MM in available funds. This opens the door to both Jarvis Landry and Jadeveon Clowney coming back, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes.

Cleveland “would love” to bring back both players, Cabot adds, despite having cut Landry earlier this week. Having Landry back would give Watson an accomplished No. 2 receiver, with Cooper set to play the WR1 role for his third NFL team. Clowney said earlier this month he was planning to be patient, but Cabot adds the Browns have been in discussions with both he and Landry about coming back.

Cooper’s restructure balloons his 2023 and ’24 cap figures north of $23MM, and while Watson’s $230MM fully guaranteed resides in another stratosphere compared to the rest of the league, he is only set to count $10MM against Cleveland’s cap this year, Pelissero adds (on Twitter). By reducing Watson’s salary in 2022, the embattled quarterback stands to lose less money if/when he is suspended. While the Browns have been heavily criticized for the Watson addition and contract extension, they are preparing to be a Super Bowl contender. That status will naturally be a draw for veterans.

Clowney, 29, has famously never landed a long-term contract as a veteran, going from a 2018 fifth-year option to a 2019 franchise tag to one-year deals with the Titans and Browns in the following years. Playing opposite Myles Garrett, Clowney registered nine sacks last season. He played with Watson for two seasons in Houston.

Landry’s five-year Pro Bowl streak stopped after the 2019 season, and he finished with a career-low 570 receiving yards. But Baker Mayfield‘s shoulder injury limited the Browns’ passing game. When Watson is available in 2022, the Browns should feature superior aerial capabilities. Landry, 29, is not a lock to come back, however. The Falcons have him on their radar, joining other teams in that regard. The Chiefs’ JuJu Smith-Schuster signing may take them out of the Landry running, though.

Mayfield, Wide Receivers Central To Browns’ Offseason Plans

Especially if he is able to be fully healthy at the start of next year, Baker Mayfield will play a large role in determining if the Browns can rebound from a disappointing 2021 season. Even if that’s the case, though, the team could still look very different by that time. 

[Related: Browns Plan To Keep Baker Mayfield]

Both head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry have expressed confidence in Mayfield: “It’s easy to forget… what we’ve seen with Baker over the past several years. Obviously he had his most productive season in this offense under [Stefanski in 2020]” Berry said recently. That’s one of the reasons ESPN’s Jake Trotter writes that bringing Mayfield back on his fifth year option “seems to be the most likely outcome”, another being the lack of realistic trade targets. With that said, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal adds that “acquiring someone to push” Mayfield, such as Mitchell Trubisky or Marcus Mariota, is a strong possibility as well. Mayfield will have a price tag of just under $19MM in 2022.

Meanwhile, the wide receiver position is setting up to be an area of focus. With veteran Jarvis Landry in danger of being a cap casualty – he has no guaranteed money left on his deal, leaving Trotter to write that it “feels like he has played his last snap with the Browns” – rebuilding the pass-catching corps is sure to be a priority. While the Browns should have the cap space to target at least one experienced wideout, there is a growing sense of expectation they will use the draft as a means of acquiring a true No. 1. Mel Kiper’s first mock draft has Cleveland taking Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson, while Dane Brugler projects them taking Treylon Burks from Arkansas.

The two reporters are also in synch when it comes to the team’s defensive needs. Defensive tackle in particular looks to be a key area of focus, given the pending unrestricted free agency of 32-year-old Malik Jackson and the recent arrest of Malik McDowell. Trotter adds that edge rusher could also be a need, depending on what happens with Jadeveon Clowney in free agency. Just like receiver, the defensive front figures to see a significant overhaul in the coming months.

For a team that generated so many expectations heading into the 2021 season, the Browns clearly face a number of key roster decisions heading into the offseason to be able to meet them in the future.

 

Latest On Jadeveon Clowney, Future With Browns

Jadeveon Clowney‘s first season in Cleveland has been mostly a success, and the former first-overall pick will consider a long-term pact with the Browns when he hits free agency this upcoming offseason.

“I would, but we haven’t talked about anything right now,” Clowney said yesterday (via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal). “Still finishing the season. Got a lot of guys on this team that’s on a one-year deal that might be heading back or don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but right now, it’s just all about the next game and trying to get through the season and doing what I can do for the team right now.”

As Ulrich notes, the Browns had courted Clowney for a few years, and they finally landed the defender on a one-year deal worth up to $10MM back in April. Following a 2020 campaign that saw him finish with zero sacks in eight games with the Titans, Clowney has rehabilitated his pass-rushing image in 2021. In 12 games (12 starts) this season, the 28-year-old has collected five sacks, 15 QB hits, and 29 tackles.

While Clowney is still unsure of his future, the veteran can count on one thing: teammate Myles Garrett will definitely try to convince him to stay.

“I’ll try, but you never know,” Garrett. “Guys have their own agendas and want to be in certain places. I can’t help it if a guy wants to be in Miami, he likes the weather there more, he likes to be by the water.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/20/21

A long list of players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We listed the players who landed on the list today, as well as those who were activated off the list:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DE John Franklin-Myers, DB Sharrod Neasman

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/19/21

Given the recent surge of COVID-19 cases throughout the league, we expected to see more roster churning today than we typically would on a December Sunday. Here are today’s minor (and not so minor) moves. This page will, of course, be updated throughout the day:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: G Jon Feliciano
  • Promoted: OL Jacob Capra

Cleveland Browns

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Football Team

Browns’ Jadeveon Clowney Tests Positive For COVID-19

Two more Browns players are looking doubtful for this week. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Kimberley A. Martin of ESPN.com (on Twitter). And, earlier today, the Browns announced that linebacker Mack Wilson has also tested positive. 

With Clowney added to the list, the Browns are likely down to eleven healthy starters for tomorrow’s game against the Raiders. The league’s new COVID-19 rules could allow some players in the group to be cleared in time, but it doesn’t seem likely with ~24 hours until game time.

Clowney has started in all 12 of his games this year and, for the most part, looks to have rebounded well from his latest knee surgery. So far, he’s got 29 tackles and five sacks — two more sacks than he had in 2019 and 2020 combined. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has him ranked as just the 45th best edge defender in the league. Regardless, the Browns can ill afford to play without him (and the other ~20 players on the COVID-19 list) as they push for a playoff spot.

Wilson, 23, has appeared in 13 games this season, including five starts. He’s got 40 tackles on the year, giving him 161 stops across the last three seasons.

Jadeveon Clowney Back To Full Strength After Knee Surgery

Jadeveon Clowney has always been extremely talented, but he’s often struggled with injuries since getting drafted first overall by the Texans back in 2014.

Last season Clowney waited a long time to sign with the Titans, eventually inking a one-year, $13MM pact with them. He had a very disappointing season in Tennessee as injuries limited him to eight games (and zero sacks) before he shut it down to have knee surgery. Clowney signed with the Browns in April, and the team was apparently at least a little concerned about the knee since it was reported they wanted to see him pass a physical before giving him his contract.

Fortunately, it appears all is well so far. Clowney is “already showing that he’s healthy again” and “exploded off the line” at recent Browns minicamp practices, Jake Trotter of ESPN.com writes. “I’ve been training extremely hard this offseason, so I kind of already have a feel of where I was coming here,” Clowney said.

“I felt great coming in, and I feel great now.” That’s good news, since the Browns are counting on him to help replace Olivier Vernon‘s nine sacks from last year and form an elite edge duo opposite Myles Garrett.

Cleveland sought to protect themselves a little bit by giving Clowney a one-year deal worth “up to” $10MM. We learned that it has a base value of $7MM with another $3MM available. He’ll earn $1MM of that just by staying healthy in per-game active roster bonuses, and another $2MM through playing time and sack bonuses.

Six months after having surgery for the torn meniscus, it appears Clowney is back to full strength (for now).