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Browns still pursuing Jadeveon Clowney as another visit remains possible

Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal
·3 min read
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The Browns remain interested in Jadeveon Clowney, a person familiar with the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the team's plans, told the USA TODAY Network on Sunday night. And their pursuit appears to intensifying.

Clowney is scheduled to fly to Cleveland on Tuesday night and visit Browns headquarters on Wednesday for the second time this offseason, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

NFL reporter Josina Anderson first reported another "visit/physical" had been in the works.

Clowney visited the Browns on March 24, but the free agent left Northeast Ohio without a contract. The outcome this week could be different.

ESPN's Dianna Russini reported Monday the Browns are in talks with Clowney and "hoping to get a deal done soon." ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts have also kept tabs on Clowney.

The Browns courted the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end last offseason, too, but he didn't accept their offers and eventually chose the Tennessee Titans, who signed him in early September for one year and $13 million.

Jadeveon Clowney (99) of the Tennessee Titans warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Jadeveon Clowney (99) of the Tennessee Titans warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The price is not expected to be nearly as steep this time around.

That's because Clowney, 28, failed to record a sack in eight games last season and missed the final seven games with an injured left knee. He had surgery Dec. 6 on meniscus cartilage, according to NFL Network.

Yet Clowney still has a reputation for playing well against the run. ProFootballFocus.com ranked him 19th among the 109 qualifying edge defenders it graded last season. He ranked 19th of 104 in 2019 and 11th of 104 in 2018.

The Browns signed defensive end Takk McKinley to a one-year, $4.25 million contract on March 18, but general manager Andrew Berry clearly remains determined to further bolster the position headlined by All-Pro Myles Garrett. Berry has about $14.5 million in salary-cap space with which to work, according to the NFL Players Association.

Olivier Vernon started the past two seasons opposite Garrett. However, Vernon suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the Jan. 3 regular-season finale, became an unrestricted free agent March 17 and is not expected to be back with the Browns.

The No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans in the 2014 draft, Clowney has started 74 of the 83 regular-season games in which he’s appeared and compiled 255 tackles, including 32 sacks, nine forced fumbles, 18 passes defensed, an interception returned 27 yards for a touchdown and eight fumble recoveries, three of which resulted in touchdowns. He has tallied 1½ sacks in five playoff games.

Clowney has a long injury history. It includes playing through pain and discomfort during the 2019 season as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, who acquired him that year in a trade with the Texans. He suffered a core muscle injury in Week 10, missing two games as a result and choosing to delay surgery until the offseason.

In other words, Clowney has had surgery this year and last.

Still, the possibility of him elevating the Browns defense would be strong if he were to sign and stay healthy. Should the club acquire him, it would have two defensive ends who were drafted first overall and three who were picked in the first round. The Browns chose Garrett at No. 1 in 2017, the same year the Atlanta Falcons picked McKinley at No. 26.

Such a move would also increase the likelihood of the Browns choosing a cornerback instead of a defensive end in the first round of the April 29-May 1 draft. They have the 26th pick, and those two positions are the biggest needs on a loaded roster.

When the Browns went after Clowney last year, they were coming off a 6-10 season. This time, they're coming off a record of 12-6, including 1-1 in the playoffs, and looking to continue to ascend under Kevin Stefanski, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Jadeveon Clowney: Cleveland Browns still pursuing pass rusher