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Jadeveon Clowney Restores Browns Edge Talent, Provides Order for Role Players, Rookies

The Cleveland Browns needed Jadeveon Clowney back for his talent, but it also helps to define roles for the rest of the position.

In re-signing Jadeveon Clowney, the Cleveland Browns have restored order to their defense, providing both continuity and a blueprint for the future. For at least one more season, the Browns defense will anchored by a formidable set of defensive ends that set the tone for everything else.

The Browns defense was at its best when Clowney and Myles Garrett were able to prevent opponents from getting outside, forcing the action ball to the middle where numbers could cover for a talent deficiency at defensive tackle. It was effective against the run, but also helped them deal with quarterbacks who could extend plays with their legs, forcing them to operate from the pocket.

Games against the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and the matchup against the Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson highlighted just how impactful the pair could be. They not only limited where the run could go, but took quarterbacks out of their comfort zone, allowing them to control the game.

This doesn't mean Winfrey, Wright and Thomas won't see the field this season, but the Browns aren't putting themselves in a position where they need rookies to make an impact when they are trying to make the postseason. Those players are going to have to earn it, the ideal scenario for any team.

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The Browns desperately needed to address the depth of the defensive line, especially the edge position. They might have gotten snaps and effort out of players like Porter Gustin, Ifeadi Odenigbo and Joe Jackson, but they got little in terms of production and impact. Jackson was the best of the group, but even he had only three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 160 snaps in 2021.

Both the Browns and Clowney are leaving their options open after this season. As much as the Browns like Clowney, they don't want to be tied to him. Clowney could absolutely return for a third season, especially if he stays healthy and productive, but the Browns don't want to be left holding the bag if Clowney has a change of heart.

Ideally, Wright uses this season to prove he can be a starter next year. However, the Browns might come back and draft another defensive end early in next year's draft, adding more talent and giving them an effective rotation while balancing out the cost of Myles Garrett's lucrative contract. Clowney could then go from being a necessity to a luxury, potentially giving the Browns an embarrassment of riches.

For now, the Browns defense is now returning all of its biggest contributors from last year, which should allow them to pick up where they left off last year, perhaps even taking another step forward. It's difficult to overstate how critical it was to retain Clowney, but with that position back to being a strength, all eyes turn to a defensive tackle position without a single proven commodity, wondering if the Browns have enough to compete for a Super Bowl.

Better yet, just sign Akiem Hicks.