A year after failing to sign Jadeveon Clowney to a lucrative three-year deal, the Browns have inked Clowney to a one-year contract worth up to $10 million. So what are the Browns getting in Clowney?
The simple answer is, it depends. The more complicated answer is, well, it depends.
The first overall pick in the 2014 draft, Clowney has flashed dominance throughout his career. But he hasn’t been able to do it consistently, thanks to a variety of injuries.
The problems started back in early 2015, when he needed microfracture surgery after only his first NFL season, due to a bone-on-bone situation in his knee. He’s had other injuries through his career, missing nearly 30 games in seven seasons. He has appeared in 16 games only once in his career, in 2017.
Even that year, Clowney didn’t get double-digit sacks. He never has, with 32.0 in seven NFL seasons and a high of 9.5. Last year, he had none in eight games with the Titans.
But he’s nevertheless capable of being disruptive, a master of what Simms calls the “eff up the play” statistic. Clowney can implode the point of attack and redirect the runner, and Clowney can collapse a chunk of the offensive line and allow teammates to run through after the quarterback. He gets no tackles or sacks or other objective recognition for doing so, however.
It has resulted in a collection of highlights that can make a team think it’s getting a cross between Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor. When Clowney’s at his best, it’s accurate. Unfortunately, he’s just not at his best often enough.
For the Browns, the key becomes managing his practice time and game reps, with the goal of having him close to 100 percent as the postseason approaches.
Perhaps the best news for the Browns is the fact we’re able to talk about the team preparing for the postseason while keeping a straight face. That’s where the Browns currently are, and they possibly will get even better in 2021. Especially if they figure out how to get the best, and the most, out of their latest addition.