After over a year of pursuit, the Cleveland Browns have finally convinced free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to sign with them. The Browns openly pursued Clowney despite having Olivier Vernon on their roster last year and with the Achilles' injury Vernon suffered in week 17, Clowney will now replace him.
The Browns get an established veteran in Clowney to play across from Myles Garrett, which was an important area to address for the Browns entering free agency. That frees up Takkarist McKinley to function as a designated pass rusher with speed off the edge.
Clowney is coming off of a torn meniscus that ended his 2020 season with the Tennessee Titans. He played eight games and did not record a single sack.
Nevertheles, Clowney consistently dominates the point of attack, which is important for the defensive scheme Joe Woods wants to run. Potentially trying to play a base dime with three safeties and just one linebacker, the Browns will be much faster and more effective in coverage.
They are more susceptible against the run and less equipped to deal with blockers, so Clowney being able to avoid giving up ground and potentially demanding a double team becomes critical.
As a pass rusher, Clowney has not had a double digit sack season in his career. He does show the ability to collapse the pocket and in an AFC conference with so many quarterbacks who can extend or create plays with their legs, that's the more desirable outcome to try their impact.
The Browns hope that Clowney, aided by Garrett, McKinley, Sheldon Richardson and Malik Jackson can help him achieve a higher sack total, but if he can help create more pressure, it could lead to more stops and turnover possibilities.
With the NFL Draft a few weeks away, the Browns can further enhance their defensive line depth with another pass rusher and use that to help balance out what Clowney brings to the table. The Browns should be more athletic and dynamic as a group overall if they make the right pick.