It was expected that if Clowney passed his physical during a visit on Wednesday that he’d be signing with the Browns and that reality quickly came to fruition. The Browns now have two former top picks holding both ends of the defensive line in Clowney and Myles Garrett.
But how much did it cost the Browns to reach a deal with Clowney, who carefully weighed his options? Clowney’s contract with Cleveland is for 1-year and up to $10 million with incentives, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Those incentives are likely based on playing time, with Clowney missing 15 games over the last two seasons. If the South Carolina product can stay on the field, he’ll be worth every penny for the Browns playing opposite of Garrett.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport came in with a full breakdown of the contract on Thursday once the dust settled.
Garrett collected 12 sacks, two pass deflections and four forced fumbles in 14 games last season, despite being one of the most double-teamed pass-rushers in the league.
Browns Have Had Long Pursuit of Clowney
The Browns interest in Clowney dates back to last season when Cleveland offered the former top pick a three-year, $57 million deal. He turned that down, instead betting on himself, signing a one-year, $12 million deal with Tennessee.
Clowney ended up notching 19 tackles — four for a loss — and no sacks in a very down year. That was coming off a season in Seattle where he missed time with a core injury and managed just three sacks.
While Clowney’s sack numbers have been down, he brings to the table a reputation as one of the best run-stuffing edge players in the league. Pro Football Focus — which ranked Clowney as the No. 4 free agent pass-rusher available this offseason — broke down what he can bring to slow down the opposition’s run game.
“Just like any free agent signing, the key is understanding what a player is bringing to the table,” PFF wrote. “Clowney has elite tools, but he’s never been an elite pass-rusher, as he has posted a pass-rushing grade in the 70s in each of the last three years and a 69.6 mark in 2020. The sack totals will fluctuate from year to year, so don’t let that change the narrative: Clowney is a good, not great, pass-rusher.
“He does his best work in the run game, using those elite tools and heavy hands to win at the point of attack. Since entering the league, Clowney is a 95th percentile run defender and a 77th percentile pass-rusher, so his future team should expect similar snap-to-snap production at this point.”
Browns Continue to Load up on Defense
The Browns have made plenty of big additions this offseason to the defense, adding safety John Johnson, cornerback Troy Hill, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, linebacker Anthony Harris and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.
Jackson, who won a Super Bowl with Denver, delivered a strong statement when it came to recruiting Clowney.
“I do not think I have to, to be honest with you. It is one of those things that the team speaks for itself and what we are trying to build speaks for itself,” Jackson told reporters. “If you want to hop on board, come hop on board. I understand the free agency market is not what he probably wants, but things are bigger than monetary value, and you get a chance to be on a good team and set yourself up in the future.”
With Clowney on board, it’s full steam ahead for the Browns.