There’s at least one big trade happening in the AFC North this morning. Just not from Pittsburgh. The Cleveland Browns have traded guard Kevin Zeitler to the New York Giants for linebacker Olivier Vernon, according to multiple reports.
Giants closing in on a deal to trade Olivier Vernon to the Browns, per source. Deal close now.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2019
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2019
Vernon never lived up to the mega contract the Giants gave him in 2016, a five-year, $85 million deal. He recorded 22 sacks over three years with the teams, finishing 2018 with seven of them. He’ll now slide into the spot opposite Myles Garrett, likely rotating with Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah finished last season with just three sacks. Garrett was the only Brown to finish the year with more than six sacks.
Vernon’s played in two games against the Steelers, one as a Giant and one as a member of the Miami Dolphins. He has three sacks in those contests, including a two takedowns of Ben Roethlisberger in a 2016 loss. He’ll, of course, get to see Pittsburgh twice this year.
Zeitler was a strong free agent pickup in 2017, coming over from the Cincinnati Bengals. He started all 32 games at guard the last two seasons. But with a new regime and the Browns drafting Austin Corbett in the second round last year, Zeitler lost his role on the team. He’ll move to a Giants team needing all the hope they can get, especially if they’re planning on drafting a QB – Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins – to be their future. Eli Manning was sacked 47 times last year.