Olivier Vernon is back with the Cleveland Browns for what he hopes is a more successful second season.
The former Pro Bowl pass-rusher’s first year in Cleveland was marred by injury and a turbulent offseason made it appear as if Vernon would be on his way out the door. However, things worked out for Vernon and he restructured his deal to stay with the Browns for the season.
Vernon was due to make $15.25 million next season, which was not going to be guaranteed until a week before the season. However, on 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. It also guarantees that he’ll be a free agent at the season’s end, as he has a “no-tag” clause.
Before Vernon’s deal was restructured, the Browns were in hot pursuit of free agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who is the biggest fish remaining on the open market. The Browns reportedly made a “lucrative” offer to Clowney, but he turned them down.
Olivier Vernon: The NFL is a Business and I Understand That
Vernon says he understands the age-old saying that the NFL is a business and didn’t take offense to the team’s pursuit of Clowney, the former No. 1 overall pick.
“When it comes to the NFL, it is a business. I understand that business aspect of it. Everything in the offseason had to get sorted out. I kept in communication with the coaches and GM trying to figure out everything that was going on. And then just staying ready, trying to get healthy and everything like that,” Vernon said. “Those guys brought in a lot of good coaches in and a lot of talent. They are trying to make something happen this year. For them to have me apart of it says that they want me here and I’m glad to be here. Now it’s time to get to work.”
Vernon finished last season with just 3.5 sacks, the lowest total since his rookie season. However, he only suited up for 10 games due to a knee injury.
Olivier Vernon Says Browns Learned Lessons Last Season
The Browns were the most hyped team in the league last season, but ended up stumbling to a 6-10 record. The team cleaned house in the offseason, bringing in head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry.
“It was a very young team across the board. … Nothing’s ever going to be given to you,” Vernon said. “You gotta earn, scratch and claw to get a win. No team is gonna fold for you just because you’re projected to win the damn Super Bowl.
“Right now, it’s hit the reset button. It’s a whole new coaching staff, we’ve got a lot of different faces on this team. We write our own script now for this year.”
The Browns are projected to win 8.5 games this season. If they beat that number, it’d be the first time since 2007 that the franchise finished with a winning record.
“I think it was a lesson to a lot of guys in the locker room last year,” Vernon said. “Especially how long the season is, the type of competition we have in our division. It’s always going to be a battle. Week in and week out, you gotta bring it, no matter what.”