Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry took a calculated risk when he signed defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in free agency this offseason.
Clowney has been a solid player during his first seven years in the league, although not quite what most would expect from a former No. 1 overall selection.
Much of that has had to do with repeated injuries that have kept Clowney sidelined for 29 games in his career, including seasons where he played just four games (2014) and eight games (2020).
The three seasons (2016 to 2018) where he played at least 14 games, however, Clowney totaled 24.5 sacks and earned three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.
So it is not going out too far on a limb to say that a healthy Clowney is a productive Clowney, which should make Browns fans excited - and opposing quarterbacks nervous - after Clowney pronounced himself healthy and happy on Wednesday, according to a team-provided transcript:
“I think when you are healthy, you have a lot of fun. When you have been playing for seven years and I have been dealing with injuries seven years, it is kind of not fun being out there, but when you are taking care of your body, you are in good health and you know what you love, I think it is fun and exciting to be out there moving around and feeling good.
“I had probably one of the best offseasons I have had working out. I am looking for a big year, and with the guys around me, that can happen.”
Perhaps a bigger takeaway is that Clowney is able to use training camp to prepare for the season, as opposed to rehabbing from an injury, as he explained:
“It is very different. Just getting acclimated with the pads. I am happy about it because I hated jumping into the season Week 1 and just putting pads on hitting. I can get out here, get my hands going, get back in tune with my body and know the playbook. It is very good to be out here and get going.”
There is always going to be a risk with Clowney given his injury history, but the payoff, if he stays healthy, could be a big one, especially since he will have plenty of opportunities to make a play while lining up opposite defensive end Myles Garrett.
Clowney is happy and healthy after the first week of training camp. If he can keep the injuries at bay, there should be a lot more happiness coming during the regular season.