While the Cleveland Browns have gotten some acceptable play in the past from their pairings to Pro Bowl edge rusher Myles Garrett, they believe that Jadeveon Clowney, whom they signed to a one-year contract a year ago, made for the best pass-rushing duo that the team has had for some time.
With that said, they were evidently not prepared to break the bank—having already done so to upgrade the quarterback position—to bring him back. After sitting in free agency for a couple of months, the two sides finally reached an agreement on a deal yesterday, another one-year contract that, with incentives, could amount to $11 million, including $750,000 in incentives related to sack numbers.
According to Ian Rapoport, the Browns were not without competition. He reported yesterday that Clowney had multiple offers from other teams for multi-year contracts offering him considerably more, in the range of $14-15 million. Those numbers probably also included incentives to rise to that amount, as is standard agent-to-reporter-chain contract reporting today, but still, it clearly sounds like it may have been a better financial opportunity.
The implication is that Clowney enjoyed his time in Cleveland and believes that he could continue to ‘resurrect’ his career following a couple of down years that tanked his market value. The former first overall pick obviously never lived up to his pedigree, but he has been a Pro Bowl player in the past, when at the top of his game and reasonably healthy.
He played in 14 games last season, which is good for him, remaining relatively healthy, and that did translate into better numbers. He finished the year with nine sacks, just half a sack off of his career high along with 19 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss, as well as two forced fumbles—tied for the second-most he has had in a season.
Clowney was originally drafted by the Houston Texans in 2014. It took him a few years to really begin to develop, but last year was the first time away from Houston where he found success. He struggled—again, in part due to health—after being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019.
He hit the open market for the first time in his career in 2020, with the Browns heavily courting him at the time, but he ultimately turned down their offer and signed a one-year contract with the Tennessee Titans. That proved to be the worst season of his career, with no sacks in eight games.
After having the opportunity to prove himself over again last year with the Browns, he is back in Cleveland for at least one more year, still 29 years old as he enters his ninth season in the NFL. Can he put in the best year of his career, maybe finally hit that elusive double-digit sacks? I’m betting that’s one of his incentive thresholds.