Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon came to the team last year as part of the trade that brought WR Odell Beckham to Cleveland. Vernon is under contract through 2020, but his future with the Browns is uncertain at the moment.
Advanced metrics were reasonably fond of Vernon’s play during his first year with the Browns — though he posted just 3.5 sacks — but he is due a hefty $15.25MM salary next season. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the Browns are not going to pay him that much, so he will either be released or asked to take a pay cut.
And the Browns do have plenty of leverage to demand a pay reduction. Vernon will almost certainly not fetch a deal on the open market that would pay him $15.25MM next year, and Cleveland can clear that entire figure off its books with no dead money penalty by cutting him. Plus, although Vernon did earn a Pro Bowl nod with the Giants in 2018, he has not played a full 16-game slate since 2016. He has missed at least four games in each of the past three years due to various injuries.
But cutting Vernon would leave a noticeable void in the team’s front seven, so a reworked deal may be the best course of action for both sides. If the Browns do part ways with the Miami product, Cabot says Everson Griffen, who recently opted out of his deal with the Vikings, could be a potential replacement. Griffen and new Cleveland HC Kevin Stefanski are obviously familiar with each other from their time in Minnesota.
In other Browns news, Cabot says she expects new GM Andrew Berry to use his extra draft capital to pursue trades for big-name players and that the team will scour the trade and free agent markets for offensive tackles.
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