The Cleveland Browns may be looking to make a move at the defensive end position ahead of the NFL’s trading deadline on November 3.
And that move could involve Olivier Vernon.
That is according to Monday Morning Quarterback’s Albert Breer, who reported on Thursday that Vernon’s name has been “circulating” in the run up to the trade deadline:
The Browns are another team that could get creative in moving players in and out, and along those lines veteran pass rusher Olivier Vernon’s name is one that’s circulating as available for teams looking for help in that area. I don’t think it’s too much to think the Browns could trade Vernon and add a pass rusher elsewhere to replace him.
It is not inconceivable that the Browns would be looking to move on from Vernon, a nine-year veteran that Cleveland acquired prior to the 2019 season in a trade with the New York Giants.
Vernon struggled to stay healthy during his final two years with the Giants, missing four games in 2017 and another five in 2018, the season he made his only Pro Bowl appearance. That trend has continued in Cleveland as Vernon missed six games last season and two games this year with various ailments.
Vernon has not been all that spectacular when he has been on the field this season as he carries a Pro Football Focus’ grade of 55.3 into Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, which leaves him ranked No. 85 out of 111 edge defenders.
That is a big drop off from his previous seasons, where Vernon’s play led PFF to name Vernon and fellow defensive end Myles Garrett as the league’s second-best edge defenders heading into this season.
If the Browns do decide to trade Vernon, the question then becomes who will replace him?
Adrian Clayborn is a solid veteran, but he has not seen starter’s minutes since 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Expecting him to hold up to an increased role may be a big ask.
Porter Gustin was grabbing a lot of attention early in the season, but only played three snaps on defense last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before, and 15 against the Indianapolis Colts the week before that. Would the Browns really be comfortable putting Gustin on the field for possibly 40-plus snaps a game during a playoff push in the second half of the season?
Breer does speculate that the Browns could add a pass rusher “elsewhere,” but who would that be?
They already passed up the opportunity trade for defensive end Everson Griffen - who the Detroit Lions picked up from the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2021 - and defensive end Carlos Dunlap - who the Seattle Seahawks acquired from the Cincinnati Bengals for offensive lineman B.J. Finney and a seventh-round pick.
It seems as if the Browns were willing to trade Vernon, they would have been in on a veteran replacement at a low price.
For now, a Vernon trade is nothing but speculation. Whether or not it becomes reality will be know by next week’s trade deadline.