The Browns reworked the contract of veteran defensive end Olivier Vernon on Tuesday, signaling that they’re comfortable keeping him as the starter opposite of Myles Garrett. Vernon will also have a no-tag clause (franchise/transition), making certain he becomes a free agent next offseason, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Vernon was due to make $15.25 million next season, which was not going to be guaranteed until a week before the season. With his reworked deal, Vernon will get $11 million guaranteed through a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million base salary, $250,000 workout bonus and $2 million in incentives, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, who first reported the deal.
Browns Have Praised Olivier Vernon in Offseason
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.
But this offseason, Vernon has been a model citizen, prompting praise from his new defensive coordinator Joe Woods.
“He’s ready to go. We just had an honest conversation, and he’s been great. He’s 100 percent attendance (in the offseason program), in all the meetings, he’s been there and he is speaking up,” Woods said. “I know he’s done really well on his tests. He scored 100 percent on a lot of them. I just think for him, he really wants to just come back this year, play healthy and just show everybody what he’s capable of doing. So far, he’s been great.”
Browns general manager Andrew Berry echoed that sentiment.
“Olivier is a good football player, and we like having good football players on the roster,” Berry said around the NFL Draft. “He is a talented defensive end. He is here and will continue to be here.”
The Browns did add defensive line pieces this season in veterans Adrian Clayborn and Andrew Billings.
Jadeveon Clowney Hesitant to Sign With Browns
The Browns had been in hot pursuit of Clowney this offseason. The former No. 1 overall pick was one of the biggest free agent names, but has been unable to secure the desired dollar amount he had in mind.
Clowney suffered a core muscle injury in Week 10 last season with Seattle, which he had surgery on this offseason. It slowed his production and he played in 13 games — starting 11 — notching just three sacks and 31 tackles.
It was reported earlier in the offseason by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Browns had offered Clowney the most lucrative deal, but that he was timid to sign.
“I think they’ve been the most aggressive team with him financially. And I just think he has balked at going to Cleveland for whatever reason. I think he’s been hesitant to go because if he wasn’t, he would have gone already because it’s the most money,” Schefter said on the radio. “It’s the richest offer on the table and he hasn’t taken it. So why is that? I don’t know. Is that not wanting to be in that city? Is that a lack of belief in the organization? I don’t know what it is. But there’s no doubt that Cleveland has offered the most money to date. For whatever reason he has not been willing to take it so far. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t change, but it hasn’t change just yet.”
The Browns did have somewhat of an inside track on Clowney, who shares an agent with Garrett. Cleveland has reportedly been negotiating a long-term extension for Garrett this offseason.