The report, from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, further stated that ” some people in the league believe that Cleveland is closer to Clowney than other contenders, although nothing has happened in recent discussions. The Seattle offer was not what Clowney wanted. ”
There has been speculation for a while that the Browns could race Clowney, but the ESPN report was the most specific to date detailing Cleveland’s interest.
A report later on Saturday afternoon from Cleveland.com said the Browns were “monitoring the situation with Clowney” but had been unwilling to pay his asking price of $ 20 million.
But, of course, neither is Seattle, and there is still no sign that the Seahawks are ready to move, Seattle sending a small sign indicating that he is completing his defensive line when he signed Benson Mayowa last week.
The Browns do not necessarily match Clowney’s stated goal of playing for a competitor after a 6-10 record last season. But the Browns remain a talented team that a year ago at the time was a chic choice for the play0ffs and Clowney is confident he could help close the gap.
According to OvertheCap.com, Cleveland also has the largest number of caps remaining of the entire NFL team with just over $ 43 million.
The Browns could also free up a lot of space to make room for Clowney by freeing veteran defensive end Olivier Vernon – the Browns could save all of the $ 15.5 million Vernon owes this year by freeing him before or after June 1.
Vernon, who is entering the final year of his contract, was seen as a disappointment last year in his first season with Cleveland with 3.5 sacks while being limited to 10 games due to a knee injury in end of season.
Cleveland might just see it as a potential Vernon business for Clowney.
Another interesting dynamic that adds to the idea that the Browns could be a serious contender is that Clowney has the same agent as Cleveland’s defensive end defender Myles Garrett, who, like Clowney, was the first pick of the draft NFL (Clowney in 2014 for South Carolina and Garrett in 2017 excluding Texas A&M).
Garrett still has a year on his rookie contract, but the Browns could also exercise a fifth-year option on him to retain his rights during the 2021 season. And one thought is that the Browns may well see Clowney on the idea of doing teamed with Garrett to help revive a Cleveland team that has not participated in the playoffs since 2003.
Seattle had made it a priority to strengthen its pass rush after a 2019 season where the Seahawks had only 28 sacks, tied for second in the NFL, and keeping Clowney was seen as central to this effort.
But Clowney has now spent almost three weeks without resolution of his future with a growing thought around the league that he is willing to wait potentially months to get the type of deal he wants (in particular, potentially wait until ‘that he can go to team sites to take physicals).
Cleveland, however, may present an option that could force a decision, although, as the Fowler report made clear, nothing seems imminent. Seattle, on the other hand, may soon have to decide to do more to complete its pass rush, like perhaps running a free agent Everson Griffen.