The Cleveland Browns are still in hot pursuit of three-time Pro Bowler and former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. However, the holdup with the Browns chase of the pass-rusher is the inability to get a physical during this uncertain time.
The situation was revealed by Seattle-based NFL insider John Clayton, who said that the physical — along with the price tag — are limiting what the Browns can do in negotiations with Clowney, who has played in all 16 games just once in his six-year career.
Last year with the Seattle Seahawks, Clowney suffered a core muscle injury in Week 10, which he had surgery on this offseason. He played in 13 games — starting 11 — notching three sacks and 31 tackles.
“The problem the Browns have is you can’t get him to a physical,” Clayton told Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan. “If you can’t get him to a physical, you don’t know the extent of how he is coming back from core surgery. You don’t know how that knee is from that micro-fracture [surgery] he had at the beginning of his NFL career. You just have to check him out physically and that’s holding things up.”
Browns Could Replace Olivier Vernon With Jadeveon Clowney
The Browns have nearly $43.5 million in cap room available for next season (per Spotrac) and also have a situation with current defensive end Olivier Vernon. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reported earlier this offseason that the Browns would “probably be looking to replace” Vernon, who entered the offseason as the highest paid player on the roster, due $15.5 million next season. But the Browns would suffer no dead cap money if they parted ways with him, making the veteran defensive end disposable if they found a better option.
Vernon had 26 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits last season. He’s missed 15 games over the past three years, but was named a Pro Bowler with the Giants in 2018 after collecting seven sacks in 11 games. Both Vernon and Clowney are a gamble at this point in terms of health, so the question would be if the Browns are willing to give Clowney an extra few million dollars on a possible one-year deal to hold down the starting spot opposite Myles Garret, who will be due a big extension of his own soon.
“In my opinion, he’s like the sixth or seventh best pass-rusher in football,” Clayton said of Clowney. “The reason he couldn’t get over $20 million per year is because he’s not a double-digit sack guy. That just doesn’t happen. He plays the run very well and puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback. And he has been one of the most double-teamed defensive ends in football. He’d be a great fit in Cleveland, but the problem is, what’s the price going to be at this stage.”
Browns, Seahawks Still top Contenders for Clowney
Clayton broke down that the Titans and Jets — two reported contenders vying for Clowney — are not serious threats to land Clowney.
“I think the Browns are the only team right now — I don’t know if they would consider it — paying him $17 million. The Jets really aren’t involved. They made one phone call and after that, didn’t make an offer. The Titans, it’s going to be tough, even though there is a great fit with Mike Vrabel who coached him.”
The Browns did sign veteran Adrian Clayborn earlier in free agency, but he’s likely to play more of a rotational role. Clayborn has 36.5 career sacks, his best year coming in 2017, when he notched 9.5 for the Falcons. Last season he had four sacks and 18 tackles in Atlanta. Clayborn won Super Bowl LIII with the New England Patriots in 2018.