UPDATED: Jadeveon Clowney’s travel plans apparently hit a snag and now he will not arrive in Cleveland until Tuesday night and meet with team officials on Wednesday, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
Free agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney is set to fly to Cleveland on Tuesday night and visit with the #Browns on Wednesday, source said. His 2nd visit to the team. Nothing immiment right now, but the two sides have maintained contact and share mutual interest.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 12, 2021
Even with that little wrinkle, it seems likely that nothing else has changed in regards to the Browns interest in Clowney and his interest in signing with the team. As long as his medicals check out, he might be latest member of the defense sometime on Wednesday.
Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry has been circling defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the better part of his two offseasons on the job.
On Monday, Berry may finally land a deal with the veteran free agent.
Berry is reportedly working on arranging yet another meeting with Clowney for Monday, according to Josina Anderson:
I’m told the #Browns are working to arrange another visit with free agent edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney for Monday, at this time, per source.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) April 11, 2021
And if that meeting goes well, Clowney may not be leaving without a contract, according to Jonathan Jones, a senior NFL reporter with CBS Sports:
Indeed. The belief is both sides will ultimately strike a deal Monday, per sources. https://t.co/l3aAVHSWCm— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) April 11, 2021
Clowney and the Browns met on March 24, which was the first opportunity for the two sides to actually meet face-to-face because of COVID-19 restrictions. Clowney was still rehabbing from surgery on his left knee in December, an injury that cut short his lone season with the Tennessee Titans to just eight games.
Monday’s reported meeting could be an opportunity for the Browns to fully checkout Clowney’s health and, if they like what the medical reports show, a deal could be quickly reached.
Clowney is the 34th ranked free agent by Pro Football Focus, and although his sack totals may not be what some would like, his play against the run is appealing:
Just like any free agent signing, the key is understanding what a player is bringing to the table. Clowney has elite tools, but he’s never been an elite pass-rusher, as he has posted a pass-rushing grade in the 70s in each of the last three years and a 69.6 mark in 2020. The sack totals will fluctuate from year to year, so don’t let that change the narrative: Clowney is a good, not great, pass-rusher. He does his best work in the run game, using those elite tools and heavy hands to win at the point of attack. Since entering the league, Clowney is a 95th percentile run defender and a 77th percentile pass-rusher, so his future team should expect similar snap-to-snap production at this point.
Having Clowney in a defensive end rotation with Takkarist McKinley is something that could work, both that scenario does come with some questions about both players.
McKinley has struggled to consistently rush the passer as he has just 4.5 sacks the past two seasons after posting 13 in his first two years in the league.
Clowney has had difficulties staying healthy, as he has played just a full season once since being the No. 1 overall selection by the Houston Texans in 2014. His rookie year lasted just four games, he played just 13 games with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019, and then just eight with the Titans in 2020.
There is certainly risk with Clowney given his injury history, but the reward of adding a solid run defender might be enough of a reward for the Browns to finally sign him to the roster.