The Cleveland Browns have been unable to sign free agent Jadeveon Clowney, but it does not mean the Browns should sign Everson Griffen.
For the past several weeks, most of the talk surrounding the Cleveland Browns was their pursuit of free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Browns were once viewed as the favorites to land Clowney, as they had the cap flexibility to off Clowney the salary wants.
However, the perception the Browns were the favorites quickly changed following a report that Clowney does not want to be in Cleveland despite the Browns offering the most money. At this point, it seems highly unlikely Clowney signs with Cleveland unless he decides the Browns offer will be the best he can get no matter what.
The idea of Clowney joining the Browns defensive line on the opposite side of Myles Garrett created excitement in the Browns fan base. Clowney and Garrett paired together would create a dynamic edge rush that would create major issues for offensive lines to attempt to contain.
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However, with the notion of Clowney signing seemingly in the past, some have considered the idea the Browns should pursue free agent defensive end Everson Griffen. Clowney and Griffen are considered the two best EDGE free agents available. After missing on signing Clowney, the Browns signing Griffen would be viewed as a good consolation prize.
Griffen has a proven track record of being a solid pass rusher, as well as providing good run defense. In 2019, Griffen made 41 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and 24 quarterback hits in 15 games.
However, Griffen would be more of a depth piece on the Browns defensive line compared to Clowney. The Browns would have been signing Clowney to be their starting defensive end for multiple years. Since Griffen is 32-years-old, Griffen would likely have only been on a one-year deal.
With the trio of Garrett, Olivier Vernon, and Adrian Clayborn, the Browns have already built up a solid group at defensive end. Along with Chad Thomas as the No. 4 defensive end, the Browns do not necessarily need to add to their group.
The signing of Clayborn this offseason will likely create a 50-50 snap split between he and Vernon. With Vernon struggling with injuries over the last several years, using Clayborn to help Vernon to take some snaps off should help Vernon stay healthy. And when Vernon is on the field, Clayborn or Thomas can relieve Garrett for a few snaps.
Although Griffen is still producing as he gets older, the Browns do not need to sign him in order to rely on him as their starter. Vernon is a solid starter for the Browns who can especially helps in the run game, despite his production not always saying so.
Griffen is reportedly waiting until he can visit facilities, so he will have to wait until the COVID-19 restrictions are loosened. Once he is able to visit facilities, there will likely be a strong market for Griffen’s services, creating higher salary demands for Griffen.
The Browns do not need to pay for depth with their current situation at defensive end. Although the Browns may not have a dominant No. 2 defensive end, Griffen does not provide the same upside that Clowney would have provided.
Cleveland was pursuing Clowney because he would be a game plan wrecker opposite of Garrett. Defensive end is not a need for the Browns, but Clowney is too good of a player for the Browns not to pursue. Although Griffen is a solid player, he does not improve the Browns as much as Clowney would.