Everson Griffen makes more sense for Browns than Jadeveon Clowney.
At last check, the Cleveland Browns were still somewhat in pursuit of Jadeveon Clowney. They apparently even made him a multi-year offer. But all things considered, fellow free agent pass rusher Everson Griffen makes more sense for them.
First, there’s the issue of asking price. Clowney is believed to be seeking north of $15 million per year. The Seattle Seahawks reportedly made an offer in that range, and the Browns were reportedly willing to up their offer to that area on a one-year deal as well. Still, no movement on him signing and the Tennessee Titans linger in the periphery as a suitor.
Let’s be clear, it’s not a financial issue for the Browns regarding signing Clowney. They have a league-high $37.27 million in cap space, with the ability to clear $15.5 million more if they released defensive end Olivier Vernon.
Here’s what Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote recently.
“A nice one-year contract for Griffen makes more sense than a long-term deal for Clowney. Depending upon Griffen’s price, the Browns can either keep defensive end Olivier Vernon or cut him. Vernon’s $15 million deal is not guaranteed until a week before the regular season.”
Drafted in 2010, Griffen has spent his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings to this point. New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was on the offensive staff there the entire time Griffen was, and defensive coordinator Joe Woods was defensive backs coach in Minnesota from 2006-2013. So there’s some familiarity in Cleveland.
Sacks can be a tricky statistic to attach value to, and advanced numbers smile on Clowney as an all-around edge defender. But Griffen had more sacks than Clowney last year (8-to-3), with 24 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss compared to Clowney’s 13 quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss (in two fewer games).
The difference between Clowney and Griffen as players is not necessarily substantial. But the Browns can probably get an older Griffen for half the price per year, and he’s a better fit.