The Cleveland Browns and Olivier Vernon finally put pen to paper on a restructured deal for 2020. Vernon will give up his non-guaranteed $15.2 million left on his contract for a guaranteed $11 million, plus incentives that could push it to $13 million. Does this move spell the end for Jadeveon Clowney? Was Everson Griffen ever really a candidate? Clay Matthews Jr.?
While the money is there to continue the chase for any of these players, it seems this restructure could point to the Browns slowing the push for Clowney. According to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, the team has no interest in either Griffen or Matthews at this point. Could Clowney still be on the horizon, or will the Browns work with the in house options?
Who’s left in house?
The Browns did add some help this offseason already signing veteran pass rusher, Adrian Clayborn, to add depth behind both Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon. They also have a young end in Chad Thomas. Thomas showed some signs last season with four sacks after taking over for Garrett the final six games.
Clayborn brings nine years of experience to the line as an ultra-effective pass-rush specialist. Over his last two NFL seasons, Clayborn has 31 pressures, 12 hurries, 11 quarterback knockdowns, and 6.5 sacks in only 757 snaps per Pro Football Reference. Last season with the Falcons, Clayborn had a 76.6 pash rush grade per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), placing him in the top 30 players at his position. Clayborn brings the size, 6-3 280, and skills to provide pass rush help all over the line.
As stated above, Thomas showed flashes last season once he became the starter after Garrett’s suspension. Thomas ended the season with 26 tackles, six for loss, four quarterback hits, nine pressures, and four sacks in 465 snaps. While all of those stats look good for a backup end, his 47.8 overall grade from PFF shows Thomas needs to get better. That ranked him at 101 out of 102 players graded. Should the Browns stick with what they have, he will have ample opportunity to show improvement in 2020.
Still in the Clowney running?
Multiple reports still have the Browns in the Clowney sweepstakes at this time. As previously stated, the restructure of Vernon is a sign that while they may not be entirely out on Clowney, the writing is on the wall. At this point, we all just have to wait and see.
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