The end of the NFL Draft marks the conclusion of one key period of the offseason for the league, but also the beginning of another phase—the second round of free agency. Not only do teams now have a clear idea of what their roster looks like following the draft, they can also begin to sign unrestricted free agents following the Monday after the draft without the signings affecting the compensatory formula.
The Cleveland Browns failed to land any true splash talent along the edge this draft—which is hard to do when you have no picks in the first two rounds—although they did add three defensive linemen. They are not without options, however.
A recent ESPN Insider article putting together a sort of draft post-mortem looked at stories surrounding each team’s draft and its ramifications. Regarding the Browns, it’s made clear that they are still very much open to a reunion from one of their biggest free-agent signings last year.
“Adding a few defensive linemen in the draft (Alex Wright in the third round, Winfrey in the fourth and Isaiah Thomas in the seventh) does not preclude the Browns from re-signing edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney as early as this week”, the article reads. “Those talks are ongoing, and Cleveland is still in play here”.
Clowney, the former first overall draft pick, signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Browns a year ago, of which $7 million was fully guaranteed, plus up to $2 million in incentives, of which he earned half during the 2021 season.
Even though he continued to deal with injury, missing three games, he had his best statistical season since 2019 with nine sacks for the Browns, as well as 19 quarterback hits. He had 37 tackles as well, of which 11 were for loss, with two passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
And he will still be only 29 years old this season, so it’s not like he’s anywhere past his prime. It would be interesting to see what kind of contract they would offer, however, and how they would structure it, given that they already used void years on last year’s one-year deal, which includes more than $3 million in dead money for the 2022 season.
The Browns reportedly offered Clowney a two-year, $24 million contract in 2021, but Clowney wanted a one-year contract. What are his contract demands at this point? Over the past three years, he has shown patience in landing the right contract in the right spot, so he’s not in a rush.