A day after the Baltimore Ravens hosted one of the more notable remaining unrestricted free agents in wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and allowing him to leave without signing a contract, the Cleveland Browns have done the same on Wednesday, hosting edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney, but allowing him to leave without putting pen to paper.
It seems as though the Ravens remain in play for Watkins, however, and likewise, the Browns are still on the table for Clowney. Cleveland came close to reaching an agreement with him last year, but he ultimately chose to sign a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans instead, who have just signed Bud Dupree of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He was limited to just eight games last season after suffering a knee injury in late November. He failed to register even one sack during that time, with 14 total tackles and four tackles for loss. He did have one forced fumble. The year prior to that, after the Houston Texans traded him to the Seattle Seahawks, he recorded just three sacks in 13 games.
Clowney is a player whose production has never matched his pedigree. The first-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, he was seen as one of the cleanest prospects to come out of college in a long time, yet, over seven seasons, he has never even hit double-digit sacks a single time—though he has come close. He combined for 18.5 sacks between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and it looked as though he had finally ‘found it’.
Regardless of production, he has always commanded money. The Titans gave him a one-year contract worth $13 million. He played under a $15 million franchise tag the year before that while he was with the Seahawks.
The Browns are in search of a top-end edge rusher to pair with Myles Garrett, the second-highest-paid player at his position in NFL history. A fellow former first-overall pick, he has recorded 42.5 sacks over the course of his first four seasons, with 10 forced fumbles, and 42 tackles for loss.
While they still have the opportunity to bring back Olivier Vernon, who himself is recovering from injury, they also signed another former first-round pick, Takkarist McKinley. He would only serve as a rotational player, however, and shouldn’t be looked at as a serious option to start other than as an injury replacement.