As the Cleveland Browns round out their roster, a noticeable gap remains on one side of the defensive line.
Cleveland has more than $24 million left in cap space for the 2022 season and will presumably use a significant chunk of that change to add an edge rusher alongside All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garrett. If the Browns had their way, they would have already added that piece by re-signing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who racked up nine sacks opposite Garrett last season.
But Clowney has not yet committed since being offered a two-year deal worth $24 million. In 2021, he played for $8 million on a one-year prove-it contract. As a failsafe, the Browns selected Alex Wright in the third round of last month’s draft.
However, with a weak front — outside of Garrett — the team could prioritize the defensive line as the offseason continues. Their No. 1 priority remains inking Clowney to a multiyear contract, a deal that one Browns insider says could be finalized shortly.
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Browns Close to Deal With Clowney, Per Insider Report
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported on May 8, that while the Browns have moved on from the idea of a reunion with wide receiver Jarvis Landry, they may be closing in on one with Clowney. Cabot wrote:
“While Landry is all but gone, Clowney could be back in the fold soon. The selection of Alex Wright out of UAB at No. 78 in the third round doesn’t preclude the re-signing of Clowney — although it makes it a little less urgent. The Browns are excited about Wright and believe he has some of the best upside potential of their nine picks.
“He’ll likely start out in the rotation, and could challenge for the starting job. But if the Browns can find the right price, Clowney will be back opposite Garrett, with Wright, Chase Winovich and others rolling in.
“The fact that Garrett wants Clowney back helps his case, but isn’t a determining factor. If they can’t come to terms, the Browns will continue to consider free agent Jerry Hughes, formerly of the [Buffalo] Bills.”
Garrett Recruiting Clowney for Return to Cleveland
As Cabot noted, Garrett has been a proponent of Clowney’s return to Cleveland, and he has not been shy about making those feelings public.
Garrett took to Twitter on April 22 and posted a photo of himself and Clowney celebrating on the field together following a play. The caption on the photo said: “Job not finished.”
Shortly after, Clowney took to Instagram where he re-posted a side-by-side photo of himself and Garrett, each of them displaying their jerseys on draft day as overall No. 1 picks. The caption noted that they are the only two defensive players to be picked first overall in the last 15 years.
Clowney’s response might be an indicator that he was on the brink of signing a deal to come back to Cleveland. Seventeen days later, though, the defensive end remains a free agent. However, if Cabot is correct, the two-headed quarterback attack of Garrett and Clowney, which amassed a total of 25 sacks between them last year, will be back with the Browns for at least a couple of seasons to come.