Jadeveon Clowney

Deshaun Watson’s Decision Swayed Jadeveon Clowney’s Free Agency Choice

The Browns acquiring Deshaun Watson via trade has become one of the most controversial moves in modern NFL history. The talented quarterback’s off-field issues have intensified since he chose Cleveland as his trade destination, but that choice did go a long way toward bringing Myles Garrett‘s 2021 edge-rushing sidekick back.

Jadeveon Clowney said Thursday that Watson’s decision made a significant impact on his own, indicating (via 92.3 The Fan’s Anthony Lima; video link) he would probably have joined the Falcons had Watson selected Atlanta as his next team. Prior to Clowney’s team-hopping run of recent years, he and Watson were Texans teammates from 2017-18.

Clowney and Watson spoke during the QB’s four-team trade sweepstakes, and Jake Trotter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) Clowney gave Cleveland a strong endorsement. While the $230MM guaranteed the Browns came back to the table with provided the clincher for the embattled passer, Clowney offering Browns praise provides some breadcrumbs ahead of the defensive end’s own decision.

We stayed in touch through that whole thing about coming here,” Clowney said, via Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. “If he come, then I come. I told him if he goes, I’ll follow him up here. I’ll go back. That’s what it came down to.”

A late-March report indicated Watson spoke with Jarvis Landry and Leonard Fournette about potentially playing together with the Falcons. Browns GM Andrew Berry‘s idea to fully guarantee Watson’s contract changed those plans, and the Falcons — who traded Matt Ryan shortly after Watson was dealt to the Browns — have shifted toward a full-scale rebuild.

Cleveland re-signed Clowney on a one-year, $10MM deal that features $9.25MM fully guaranteed. Garrett lobbied extensively to bring Clowney back. That stands to help the Browns’ defense, though the one-year commitment is interesting in this case. While Clowney’s injury history has damaged his hopes of scoring a long-term deal, Watson factoring into his free agency choice this year may provide a letdown. With the sixth-year veteran QB facing 24 civil lawsuits and counting, a lengthy suspension is expected. This Browns season stands to feature an extensive stretch in which Watson is away from the team, leading to Jacoby Brissett being favored to take many of the team’s snaps this year.

Watson potentially being ticketed to play a full season in 2023 could again influence Clowney’s next commitment. The injury-prone former No. 1 overall pick played 14 games last season, recording nine sacks. Another healthy season would increase Clowney’s market value in 2023, should he not sign a Browns extension before the next league year begins.

Browns To Re-Sign DE Jadeveon Clowney

After weeks of rumors connecting Jadeveon Clowney to a Cleveland return, that agreement has come to pass. Clowney will stay with the Browns on a one-year deal, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter).

The ninth-year defensive end will stay in Cleveland on a deal worth up to $11MM, USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets. Incentives are included in this total, making it appear similar to the one-year, $8MM pact Clowney inked with the Browns in 2021. Either way, this will ensure Myles Garrett‘s edge-rushing partner will return — something the All-Pro lobbied for — for a second season.

The sides agreed to this deal Wednesday, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, but needed a few more days to finalize it (Twitter link). Clowney should be expected to earn close to that $11MM total, RapSheet adds, noting that the veteran edge defender turned down multiyear deals worth more than $14MM from other teams to stay in Cleveland (Twitter links).

While this does not stop Clowney’s run of one-year agreements, it does ensure he will return to a team for the first time since his Texans rookie deal expired. Since the Texans executed a tag-and-trade sequence with the Seahawks late in the summer of 2019, Clowney has spent the past three seasons in Seattle, Tennessee and Cleveland. The Browns season marked his most successful, even if the team underwhelmed. Clowney’s nine sacks were his most since 2018, his most recent Pro Bowl year. He finished with 32 pressures (tied for 25th in the NFL) alongside Garrett, who tied T.J. Watt for a league-high 52. Garrett’s 16 sacks were also a Browns single-season record.

Cleveland used a third-round pick on defensive end Alex Wright and traded for ex-Patriots edge contributor Chase Winovich. This duo will now be positioned to be rotational rushers behind the Garrett-Clowney tandem. With the Browns having moved on from 2021 defensive tackle starters Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell, Clowney will be positioned to help as an inside rusher as well. That would allow one of the edge backups to join he and Garrett in sub-packages.

This does continue an interesting run of contracts for Clowney, who led off a talented 2014 draft. Injuries have plagued the former South Carolina super-prospect for most of his career, with knee trouble being at the forefront of his health issues. Clowney did play in 14 games last season, however. But the long-term deal packed with guarantees — along the lines of the ones 2014 classmates Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack received years ago — eluded him. Clowney, 29, played out his Texans contract but will finish his 20s on a year-to-year path.

Still, Clowney earned $15MM in 2019 (via the tag), $13MM in 2020 and $8MM (plus $750K in incentives) last year. In addition to the $30MM-plus he made in five years with the Texans, the three-time Pro Bowler has done pretty well for himself — albeit in unorthodox fashion.

Browns Optimistic On Jadeveon Clowney Return

For the second time in three years, Jadeveon Clowney is without a team near the end of May. While his 2020 free agency stay did not conclude until days before the regular season began, no team had the inside track on the former No. 1 pick during that unusual offseason. Two years later, Clowney has seen a primary suitor emerge.

This offseason has frequently connected the Browns to a second Clowney deal. Mutual interest is believed to exist, and Myles Garrett is on board with his 2021 pass-rushing partner returning. The Browns are optimistic another Clowney contract will be completed, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

No deal is imminent, and Clowney has shown a willingness to proceed without a team deep into a summer. His initial Browns pact took place in April 2021. That contract led to a bounce-back season from the former Texans Pro Bowler, who played 14 games and recorded nine sacks — his most since his Houston days. The well-traveled edge defender finished with 32 pressures last season (tied for 25th in the league). Garrett, who matched T.J. Watt with an NFL-high 52, undoubtedly helped bolster Clowney’s value.

It will be interesting to see if a multiyear deal transpires as a result. Not much interest has emerged from beyond Cleveland, though Carolina may be on the lookout here. Due largely to injuries, Clowney has been on a year-to-year track since his rookie deal expired. The Texans completed a tag-and-trade sequence in 2019, sending Clowney to the Seahawks, who did not re-sign him. The South Carolina product then signed one-year deals with the Titans and Browns.

Cleveland’s $27MM-plus in cap space leads the NFL. The team did draft a defensive end on Day 2 (UAB’s Alex Wright, chosen 78th overall) and traded for Chase Winovich, but Clowney would be a safer bet opposite Garrett. Clowney, 29, could also help as an inside rusher at times for a team rebooting at defensive tackle. Its 2021 D-tackle starters — Malik Jackson (unsigned) and Malik McDowell (nontendered as an ERFA) — are free agents. For a team that traded for ex-Clowney teammate Deshaun Watson, signifying a genuine attempt at Super Bowl contention, bolstering a thin roster spot with an accomplished veteran certainly makes sense.

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