Former Texans No.1 Pick Clowney Joins AFC Contender

Jadeveon Clowney is now out of the AFC South, but not out of the AFC
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HOUSTON -- When Jadeveon Clowney was traded away from the Houston Texans, many believed he would receive a long-term extension from the Seattle Seahawks. Instead, he lasted with the 12th Man for a season. 

The same happened with the Tennessee Titans in 2020 when asked to play on a prove-it deal. 

He'll do that again in 2021. 

The Cleveland Browns agreed to terms with the former No.1 overall pick Wednesday to become their starting defensive end. According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Clowney will play on a one-year deal worth $8 million but could reach up to $10 million in incentives. 

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This was a deal that seemed evident following a second visit with the franchise earlier this week. After passing his physical, the two sides agreed to the deal before the NFL Draft. 

Last season, the Browns were reportedly interested in Clowney, willing to offer him a contract that could have been on a multiyear deal. Instead, he elected to return to former defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel's 3-4 system in Tennessee on a one-year, $13 million deal.

Clowney played in eight games, recording 19 total tackles and six quarterback hits. He did not record a sack on the season, the first since his rookie season in 2014. 

Drafted out of South Carolina by Houston in 2014, the Texans expected Clowney to be the top-tier pass rusher at the NFL level. Although the three-time Pro Bowler was a staple of the Texans' top-level defense, the 28-year-old has yet to record double-digit sacks in his seven NFL seasons. 

Clowney's best year came in 2017, in which he recorded 59 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 21 quarterback hits. 

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After coming off a repaired torn meniscus, Clowney will likely be asked to play a more defensive end role than a standing outside linebacker. The Browns run a base 4-3 defense under coordinator Joe Woods and finished ninth in run defense last season, allowing opponents to average 110.8 yards per game and 4.3 yards per run. 

Clowney will join 2017 No.1 pick Myles Garrett as the run defender to Garrett's pass-rusher style. The Browns also added former 2017 first-round Takk McKinley this offseason and kept defensive end, Porter Gustin. 

Expectations are Clowney and McKinley should make a combine for a 1-2 package opposite Garrett as the No.2 pass-rusher and primary run-stopper. In his fourth season, Garrett recorded 12 total sacks, ranking sixth among NFL players in 2020. 

The Texans swung and miss on Clowney due to contract negotiations. Hopeful to receive top dollar as a pass-rusher, former GM Brian Gaine and head coach Bill O'Brien weren't willing to budge. Instead, it turned into a pair of picks — one of which became cornerback Gareon Conley — and edge rusher Jacob Martin. 

In two seasons with Houston, Martin has recorded 31 total tackles and 6.5 sacks. Conley is currently a free agent. 

For his career, Clowney has started in 74 games. He has tallied 255 tackles, 32 sacks, 86 QB hits, and nine forced fumbles. Combined outside of Houston, he's recorded 3.5 sacks in two seasons. 

The Browns currently hold the No. 26 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Texans won't be on the clock until the No. 67 selection. 

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