Cleveland Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon suffered a ruptured Achilles' at the end of the regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Near the end of the fourth quarter, Vernon went down with an ankle injury and when he was helped off the field, he couldn't put weight on it. Teammates were immediately concerned and disheartened at what they saw.
Beyond the fact that Vernon is out for the playoffs and a rematch with the Steelers, it now creates a massive hole on the Browns roster. After nine sacks and a dominant second half of the season, Vernon looked like he was going to make it so the Browns would re-sign him to keep the edge position opposite of Myles Garrett strong.
They could still add youth behind him through the draft, but he was playing at a high level and could help ease them into it. Vernon is a technician at the position, who has been open in terms of helping players improve, including rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills.
But with a ruptured Achiles', the Browns may not be able to sign him again. The recovery time would put him into next season in addition to the challenges that come from recovering from the injury in the first place.
The Browns lose a great player at defensive end, lose a tremendous value in the locker room in terms of leadership and mentoring fellow players, but they also create a massive hole in the roster the Browns will have to find a way to fill in the coming offseason.
Truly a devastating end for Vernon's season and potentially his career with the Browns, because he was as good as any player on this team down the stretch. It's gut wrenching news for a team that managed to make the postseason in no small part because of his impact.