The Cleveland Browns were able to bolster their pass rush by trading for defensive end Olivier Vernon in March. But Vernon might still might be a member of the New York Giants if the Minnesota Vikings had gotten their way.
According to Andrew Krammer of The Star-Tribune, the Browns were in discussion with the Vikings about trading guard Kevin Zeitler to Minnesota in exchange for defensive end Everson Griffen:
This offseason, Griffen for Zeitler was the hope before Giants finalized Vernon deal. Not sure how far along it got, but there was hope in the building up until Giants-Browns trade.— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) April 10, 2019
It is not clear who initiated the trade talks, but Browns general manager John Dorsey looks to have made the right call by acquiring Vernon, who is 28 years old and coming off a season where he earned a grade of 86.3 last season from Pro Football Focus, over Griffen, who is 31 and earned a grade of 68 from PFF last season.
Speaking of Vernon, who has two years left on the five-year deal he signed with the Giants in 2016, Monday Morning Quarterback’s Andy Benoit had an interesting note in his article about the Browns draft needs.
According to Benoit, the Browns may be looking for a defensive end in the upcoming draft so that Dorsey will have the flexibility to release Vernon after just one year in Cleveland:
Cleveland’s D-line depth is decent enough that GM John Dorsey can take the most talented tackle or end available. All things equal, he’ll lean towards defensive end since Vernon, with a $15.5 million cap number in 2020, is unlikely to be here for more than one year.
While there has been some chatter about Vernon being a candidate for a re-structured contract at some point, this is the first time we’ve seen someone float out the idea of Vernon being a one-and-done player with the Browns.
According to spotrac.com, Vernon carries a salary of $15.5 million in each of the next two seasons, but there is no dead money that would hit Cleveland’s cap space if Vernon were to be released.
It seems a bit of a stretch to think that Dorsey would cut Vernon after just one season, especially since it cost the Browns one of the league’s best guards to acquire Vernon. More likely, the Browns will look to work out a new deal with Vernon that will give him some more financial security.