Last night, Josina Anderson of ESPN reported that the Cleveland Browns were working to arrange a second visit with free agent edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
The belief around the league is that after his second visit, the Browns and Clowney will strike a deal. If Clowney does indeed make a trip back to Cleveland, it will be his third time in the city in two years. Andrew Berry and the rest of the front office hosted Clowney last year, before he ultimately decided to sign with the Tennessee Titans. The edge-rusher out of South Carolina played in eight games last year, registering no sacks and only four QB-hits. He underwent knee surgery after Week 9 this past year.
Browns’ New Look Defense
The Cleveland Browns went into the offseason knowing they needed to upgrade their defense in multiple ways. Defensive end Myles Garrett was well on his way to winning the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, before contracting COVID-19. Garrett had 12 sacks last year and forced four fumbles. Other than Garrett and All-Pro corner Denzel Ward, the Browns defense was average, at best. However, the work that General Manager Andrew Berry has done this offseason has been spectacular.
Berry went out and signed John Johnson III, one of the best young safeties in the league, as his first move in NFL Free Agency. Johnson was the defensive signal-caller for the leagues top-rated defense last year. Johnson III started all 16 games for the Rams last season, and recorded one interception and 105 tackles. Andrew Berry wasn’t done raiding the Rams defense, as a few days later, he signed cornerback Troy Hill away from LA. Hill, a Youngstown, Ohio native, was the 18th-rated cornerback in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. That was three notches ahead of Denzel Ward. Cleveland rounded out free agency by signing linebacker Anthony Walker and edge-rusher Takkarist McKinley.
Expectations For Jadeveon Clowney With Browns
If the Browns finally get Clowney to put pen to paper, it’s possible Cleveland will have the best overall team in the NFL. However, as many Browns fans will tell you, you don’t play the game of paper. On the flip side, Clowney could be the last piece of the puzzle for the Browns. If he can recover from surgery and play the way he did from 2016-18, the Browns should be one of the top teams in the league.
With all that being said, let’s slow our roll a bit. Clowney has only played a full season once in his career, in 2017. He’s had a history of injuries, dating back to his days playing for Gamecocks. Other than his meniscus, he has an injury history that is pretty long and extensive. Before he can officially sign anywhere, he needs to pass a physical. So, while it is an exciting time for the Browns right now, once again, you don’t win football games on paper.
Jadeveon Clowney Predicted Stats
Games: 12 | Passes Defended: 3
Tackles: 45 (Combined) | Tackles For Loss: 14
Sacks: 7.5 | QB Hits: 15
Looking To the 2021 Browns Season
I have lived in Cleveland for my entire life. The last time there was this much buzz and excitement around the city was during the 2016 NBA Finals. Andrew Berry has done a great job bringing in guys like Johnson III, Hill and McKinley. Clowney would be the cherry on top. With a Clowney signing, the Browns will have a re-tooled and energized defense. Next up on Berry’s agenda will be the 2021 NFL Draft, which is being held in Cleveland. The front office will most likely look to keep improving the defense with a linebacker or defensive back. It is possible that the Browns trade up and grab a guy like Jaycee Horn, or luck into an explosive receiver like Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman or Terrace Marshall Jr.
This won’t be the first time Clowney and I have crossed paths. I was at South Carolina in 2011, just a tiny freshman in Columbia, South Carolina. I got to watch Clowney cause problems for offensive coordinators in the SEC. Signing him would be a huge step towards a championship push. Oh, and let’s not forget about this. John Gruden nearly lost his mind. Sorry, Michigan.