CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from March 4, 2021.
Last week, the NFL transactions report revealed that Jadeveon Clowney had visited with the Cleveland Browns.
With that in mind, here are three reasons why the Browns should make a push to -- and ultimately sign -- the free agent defensive end.
While Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry has spent the bulk of the offseason to this point improving his team's defense, one could argue that one of the Browns' most glaring needs remains. With Olivier Vernon now a free agent and having suffered a torn Achilles' in Cleveland's 2020 regular-season finale, the Browns still need to find a full-time replacement to start opposite Myles Garrett at defensive end.
While Cleveland did sign Takkarist McKinley to a one-year contract, the 2017 first-round pick has struggled with both injuries and inconsistencies throughout the first four years of his NFL career. And with the Browns' first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft being at No. 26, it might not be safe to assume that Cleveland will be able to use its top pick on a starting-caliber Edge defender.
As for Clowney, it's fair to question the 28-year-old's own recent injury history, which led to him 11 games over the course of the past two seasons, including eight in 2020. But when paired with the signing of McKinley, the Browns could enter the 2021 campaign with two high upside options possessing the ability to line up opposite one of the best defensive players in the league in Garrett.
He's still good
While Clowney may not have lived up to the hype he entered the league with as the No. 1 pick of the 2014 Draft, the reality remains that he's still a more than productive player. Although he has only totaled three sacks over the course of the past two seasons -- and not any in his eight games with the Tennessee Titans a season ago -- the two-time Pro Bowl selection graded as Pro Football Focus' No. 19 Edge defender last season, one spot ahead of Vernon.
Factor in that Clowney would be lining up opposite Garrett and likely splitting time with McKinley in Cleveland and it isn't hard to imagine his effectiveness increasing with the Browns. Plus, the addition of Clowney -- who has played in multiple schemes throughout his NFL career -- would only increase the versatility of Cleveland's defense.
In a vacuum, there's no question as to whether adding Clowney to the Browns' roster would be an upgrade for Cleveland. The real -- and most important -- question is how much would it cost?
The answer? Perhaps not as much as you'd think.
While the Browns reportedly offered Clowney more money than any other team when he was a free agent last offseason, the market for Edge defenders this year has already seemed to dry up. More than two weeks into free agency, Clowney remains un-signed, as do other high-performing players at his position, including Melvin Ingram and Justin Houston.
While PFF had previously projected Clowney to be in line for a one-year, $13 million salary, Spotrac.com now projects his market value to be exactly half that -- $6.5 million. At that price, or perhaps even lower, signing the South Carolina product would be too much of a value for a front office as savvy as the Browns' to pass up.