What should Cleveland Browns do with Olivier Vernon?
By Nick Pedone
Olivier Vernon’s future with the Cleveland Browns is entirely undecided. However, if the team releases him they will have about $70 to spend in free agency.
The Cleveland Browns have yet to make a decision on what to do with defensive end Olivier Vernon.
Former general manager John Dorsey traded offensive guard Kevin Zeitler to the New York Giants in return for Vernon, who is still under contract through 2020.
Vernon, 29, is set to make $15.25 million this season, but the Browns could clear him off the books entirely by releasing him. There would be no penalty for dead money.
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Releasing Vernon entirely is likely an enticing option for new GM Andrew Berry, whose analytically-driven approach had absolutely nothing to do with bringing the edge rusher to Cleveland. While advanced metrics were reasonably fond of Vernon’s 2019 season, he posted only 3.5 sacks in 10 games.
According to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns could easily avoid paying Vernon his massive sum of cash by releasing him in order to sign Everson Griffen, defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings.
Signing Griffen, who will be entering his tenth year in the NFL, would likely save the Browns some cash as the 32-year-old reportedly made $8 million with the Vikings last season. In 2019, he played in 15 games with the Vikings and recorded eight total sacks with 26 solo tackles.
Again, no decision has been made on Vernon’s future in Cleveland. However, the analytics department at the team’s Berea headquarters probably isn’t too fond of Vernon being the highest-paid player on the roster, especially with his injury history.
Seriously, does it take Harvard graduates to figure that out?
While Griffen was healthy for most of Minnesota’s games last season, signing a 32-year-old football player always comes with a risk.
But, with Myles Garrett reinstated and ready for the start of the season on the other side of the defensive line, Griffen’s workload in Cleveland would become much easier. It might just be worth the gamble.
It’s fair to imagine that Vernon’s future with the Browns is unlikely, unless he is willing to forfeit some of that gigantic contract he is set to make in 2020. Trading Vernon will be difficult because no other team is going to be ecstatic to absorb that much money for an injury-prone defenseman who is soon to be on the wrong side of 30 years old.
If the Browns decide to release Vernon, it would be wise to pick up Griffen as a replacement. The team will have well over $70 million of cap space to spend.
Why sit on all of that money?