The Cleveland Browns are no longer a football black hole—and not just because they sucked for a long time—for NFL free agents, the place where one knew your career would spaghettify by going there. They actually have a potentially competent team, and players have actually begun to choose going there, even if they aren’t from Cleveland.
Sometimes the allure of a great quarterback helps, even if he is (allegedly) quite a horrible person—or (allegedly) a person who has done quite horrible things to quite a number of people. The acquisition of Deshaun Watson, for example, is what convinced Jadeveon Clowney to re-sign, he told reporters.
“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can get better and pick off from what I did last year. Then my boy came here, Deshaun”, he recently told reporters. “I talked to him a few times before he signed and after he signed. We stayed in touch during the whole little thing about coming here. If he comes or if I come, what is going to happen? I told him if he goes then I will follow him over here and I will go back. That is what it came down to”.
Clowney did finally agree to sign with the Browns last year, yet that experience alone obviously wasn’t enough to get him to come running back. Nor was the Watson acquisition for that matter, as he didn’t re-sign with Cleveland until late last month on May 22.
The former first-overall pick did have his best, and not coincidentally healthiest, season in a few years with the Browns last year, posting nine sacks and a healthy stat sheet all around. He also gets to continue working with an elite pass rusher on the other end.
“That is my boy. Me and him do some good things together”, he said of Myles Garrett. “We got along well. We played well together. We fed off of each other. Come here and do the same thing again this year, even better because that was our first year, we did not know each other like that and we got a good thing going from last year. Try to keep going this year”.
As for Clowney and Watson, they, of course, were teammates with the Houston Texans. The Texans traded Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 while under the franchise tag, and then he ended up signing with the Tennessee Titans in free agency in 2020.
As implied, health factors played a major role in limiting his success on the field during that stretch, after it seemed as though he finally recovered from an early slow start to his career. It’s not so far-fetched to believe that he, still at the age of 29, can have the best season of his career in 2022, even if one might question his judgement about why he chose to stay.