Should the Cleveland Browns consider Jadeveon Clowney?

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PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 05: Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 05, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

After initially demanding $20 million per year, sources say Clowney has lowered expectations.  Should the Browns consider signing?

Beginning the 2020 free agency Jadeveon Clowney was one of the “big name” pass rushers to hit the market.  While the Cleveland Browns were looking for defensive line help, Clowney’s original asking price of $20 million per year was much too high. Keep in mind the franchise tag for a defensive end is just over $17.5 million.

Now it appears Clowney has lowered his asking price to $17-18 million. Clowney who is entering year seven in the NFL spent five seasons with the Houston Texans and one season with the Seattle Seahawks after being traded is reportedly looking for a one-year “prove it” deal.

If Clowney has a big year, he will likely have a few multiple years, high dollar offers next offseason.

Should the Browns be interested in Clowney? Possibly, but let’s go through the pros and cons first.

Pros:

  • A one-year contract is a low risk, with plenty of cap in 2020 the Browns can walk free if he doesn’t produce.
  • Clowney will be highly motivated. At age-27, he will be hungry for a big season to have a shot at one more big-money contract.
  • While Clowney’s sack totals aren’t tremendous, he faces many double teams and has been successful in getting quarterback pressure.

Cons:

  • Clowney has only played 16 games in one season throughout his career. Injuries are a concern, but he has played in at least 14 games three of the last four seasons.
  • Even at $17 or $18 million for one season, that is a ton of money on one player if it doesn’t work out. Even though there is plenty of cap space currently, it could limit your ability to make trades if injuries would occur.
  • This is a one-year solution. If he plays well you won’t be able to afford Clowney and Myles Garrett, and if he doesn’t play well you’ve wasted a ton of money.

I know what everyone is thinking. Cut Olivier Vernon and save $15.5 million in cap space, and then sign Clowney. In that scenario, it’s only costing the Browns an additional $1.5 – 2.5 million in 2020.

The question I pose, is Clowney better than Vernon?  Especially if you factor in its only one year and Vernon’s age, not a factor.

The stat line for Clowney is not overwhelming with only 32 sacks in six years, which is just over five sacks per year. While Vernon isn’t tremendously better, he has 54.5 sacks in an eight-year career, which is nearly seven sacks per season. Tackles and tackles for loss are both very similar throughout their careers.

Clowney may be the flavor of the week currently, but even if it is only a few million dollars, the risk outweighs the reward right now. Especially when you consider Vernon as your alternative option paired with Garrett. Yes, Vernon is also a concern with injuries, but Cleveland saw what he was capable of last year when he finally hit his groove mid-season.

Next: Post free agency roster moves for the Cleveland Browns

Vernon has already fit in the locker room and will also be highly motivated for a strong 2020.  Don’t look for Andrew Berry to get aggressive for Clowney.