It’s a one-year pact with a base value of $4.25MM that can be worth up to $6MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Sounds like the deal is rich on incentives, which makes plenty of sense for a player in McKinley’s circumstances. The UCLA product was the 27th overall pick in 2017, but things never worked out for him in Atlanta. By the end he was butting heads with management and blasting the team on social media, which ultimately led to him getting waived.
A bizarre saga then ensued, with a number of teams trying to claim him to cash in on his potential. He was claimed by the Bengals and then 49ers, but failed physicals with both teams and reverted to waivers each time. He was then finally claimed and cleared by the Raiders, but spent the rest of last season on Las Vegas’ injured reserve.
McKinley has shown plenty of flashes and most metrics graded him very positively when on the field recently, so it’s a nice low-risk signing for Cleveland. The story all offseason was that the Browns were looking for a big-name pass-rusher to pair next to Myles Garrett, and they expressed interest in J.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Trey Hendrickson before they signed with different teams.
This McKinley signing isn’t as splashy as one of those other guys would’ve been, but he’s got significant upside. Still only 25, he’s got plenty of time to turn around his career narrative.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.