1 pick overall, Jadeveon Clowney has had a solid, if not unimpressive, career with the Texans, Seahawks, Titans and Browns. About to turn 30 on Valentine’s Day, Clowney still has several years of NFL football ahead of him. Although, it seems Cleveland Browns will not be part of that future.
On Thursday, Clowney said Mary Cabot’s Cleveland Delta Dealer that he’s “95% sure” that he won’t return to the Browns in 2023, with the remaining 5% identified as more changes being made to the organization. “There’s going to be a lot of change here next year,” Clowney said. “So they might not come back – and I might.” When prompted for further clarification, Clowney said “I just felt like I needed to be with someone who believed in me and my abilities.”
Interesting. So Clowney believes the Browns no longer have faith in him. I can understand both sides in that case. Clowney has only had two caps in 12 games – that will be 13 after the team’s Week 18 game against Pittsburgh – this season after scoring nine covers in 14 games in his first year with the team. The team could be disqualified from their pass runner and likely don’t want to pay him the same 2023 salary he earned this year. Meanwhile, Clowney still believes he has a lot to offer and wants to go to a team that will appreciate his talent. If that’s the level of disagreement, then I totally get it.
Too bad that’s not where it ends.
What is Clowney really upset about?
The root cause of Clowney’s dissatisfaction was that the Browns had repeatedly tried to give fellow passer Myles Garrett the best games. Clowney believes the group is trying to make Garrett a superstar, putting him in the center of national attention for their branding. “You’re all trying to get someone into the Hall of Fame when all that matters is winning,” Clowney said. “Everybody comes here for a reason and we can all act. I know I am.
Just to be clear, Clowney himself wasn’t upset with Garrett, although he did say he doubted Garrett even realized how unhappy he was. Instead, he believes the Browns are so focused on giving Garrett his best games that winning has become a second priority. However, that’s just stupid.
Breaking news: Football is all about matches. It’s all about planning so that your best players are often paired with your opponent’s worst players for a better chance of creating disruption. Was it unfair to Allen Robinson that Sean McVay put Cooper Kupp moving in the lineup to get him to line up opposite a sluggish defender, or was it just a good game plan? Was it unfair to Klay Thompson when the Golden State Warriors made a series of picks and rolls to get Steph Curry to pair up with the opponent’s big man? Oh, how painful it must be for all the other players on those teams to see their organization prioritize buffering a certain player’s stats over winning! Please.
Garrett is one of the best passers in the league, and pairing him with weaker opponents would theoretically be the best chance for rushed passes to reach the midfielder. Sure, Clowney is playing second, and it’s probably frustrating for him after doing so in Houston behind JJ Watt for the first five years of his career. However, that does not diminish his role. Clowney’s role is to provide a fearsome presence on the other side of the defense, stopping the offensive line from shifting the entire focus to Garrett and opening up more opportunities for Garrett. In turn, Garrett’s elite talent should theoretically open up more opportunities for Clowney as well, even if Clowney is forced to compete more often from tougher competitors.
Where does Clowney go from here?
Could Clowney be an elite passer on another team? Sure. Why not? He has said he would “easily” have double-digit sacks this year if the team didn’t constantly put Garrett in the spotlight. He also said he would go there next year with whatever team he wanted to play for. “At this point, I feel better last year than last year,” he explains. That said, Clowney has never hit 10 sacks in a season. At 30, the clock is ticking.
When asked if JJ Watt regularly lined up against weaker attackers, Clowney said that due to his youth and Watt’s already established reputation at the time, he had no right to be. Choose where you line up. “I did [21 years old] at that time,” he said. “It was perfectly fine for him to decide where I was in line. He was twice the Defensive Player of the Year.” I mean, by that logic, shouldn’t Garrett have the right to decide for himself?
By the time Clowney arrived in Cleveland, Garrett was finishing his first All-Pro season and his third consecutive season with a double-digit record. Sure, Garrett (26) was younger than Clowney (28), but Garrett’s reputation grew higher and higher. I mean, for goodness’ sake, Garrett netted 10 times in 2019 in just 10 games in 2019. He could have won Defensive Player of the Year that season if it weren’t for it. a certain helmet incident with a rather famous reindeer. He became one of the best first overall picks of the 2010s. The moment for Clowney to prove he can win that title too has come and gone at that point.
Look, I understand that Clowney wants more opportunities to prove himself, but says the Browns don’t want to win because they literally take the same practice approach as every team (because it brings give them the best chance to win) is downright ridiculous. That’s not to say Clowney’s role for the Browns is any less important. I’m sure the Browns would love to have him back.t years, but if he’s not satisfied with the team’s best efforts, then that seems to be Clowney’s problem, not the Browns’ problem.
And in case you’re wondering how the Browns feel about Clowney’s comment: He was sent home early from practice on Friday.