The Cleveland Browns and defensive end Olivier Vernon have agreed to a re-structured deal, according to ESPN's Field Yates. Vernon will receive a fully guaranteed $11 million contract that includes a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million base salary, $250,000 workout bonus and up to $2 million worth of incentives. The deal also promises that the veteran will be an unrestricted free agent next spring. The re-structure saves them $4.5 million against the salary cap.
Vernon had been scheduled to receive a base salary of $15.5 million this upcoming season, which led to speculation that the team might part ways with him. The sticking point is that the roster lacks a viable replacement opposite Myles Garrett. Cleveland did sign veteran edge rusher Adrian Clayborn but had also been sniffing around free agent Jadeveon Clowney.
Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot noted that the Browns do not have interest in signing free agent Everson Griffen. Reports have indicated that the Browns extended the most lucrative offer to Clowney but that he has been unwilling to accept for whatever reason. The latest transaction involving Vernon likely ensures that he is on the roster this season and could, theoretically, remove the AFC North franchise from the hunt for Clowney.
Vernon had been acquired from the New York Giants the previously offseason in a trade that included wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The 29-year-old has missed at least four games in each of the past three seasons, including six games a year ago. In his first season with the Browns, the Florida native recorded 26 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods says that his conversations with the pass rusher have been positive.
"All of my conversations have been good with him," Woods told media in a Zoom call in May. "I get on the phone and talk to him personally. He is ready to go. We just had an honest conversation, and he has been great. He is 100 percent attendance. In all the meetings, he has been there and he is speaking up. I know he has done really well on his tests. He scored 100 percent on a lot of them. I just think for him, he really wants to just come back this year, play healthy and just show everybody what he is capable of doing. So far, he has been great."
The team believes that he will be healthy and ready to roll this season.
"Yeah, as far as I know, based on the workouts that he is doing. I feel like he is in good shape. Obviously, [his official status won't be known] until he gets in front of our medical staff, but all indications are that he is healthy and ready to go," Woods finished.
According to Spotrac.com, the Browns have extended their lead in salary cap space bringing them up to roughly $42 million. One situation left to be sorted out is tight end David Njoku, who requested a trade from the team last week.