After a long wait on the open market, Clowney finalized an agreement Sunday to re-sign with the Browns on a one-year contract worth as much as $11 million with incentives, a person familiar with the deal confirmed.
Clowney became an unrestricted free agent March 16 on the heels of his most successful individual season in three years.
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Last season, Clowney appeared in 14 of 17 Browns games and compiled 37 tackles, with nine sacks, 19 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and two passes defensed. He was voted a Pro Bowl alternate. He missed two games because he contracted COVID-19 in December and another one because he experienced knee soreness in pregame warm-ups Oct. 10 before a 47-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
By any measure, it was a career renaissance for Clowney. The three-time Pro Bowl selection hadn't played that many games in a season since he appeared in 15 in 2018 or compiled that many sacks since he posted nine the same year.
Clowney first joined the Browns in April 2021 when he signed a one-year contract worth up to $10 million with incentives. He had previously rejected the courtship of Browns GM Andrew Berry in the 2020 offseason and decided to instead join the Tennessee Titans on a one-year, $13 million deal.
But Clowney played just eight games during the 2020 season and failed to register a sack. He landed on injured reserve with a knee injury in late November and had surgery in early December on torn meniscus cartilage.
Clowney, 29, has a well-documented injury history. The University of South Carolina product had microfracture surgery on his right knee as a Houston Texans rookie, and other injuries subsequently piled up on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Despite issues with Clowney's health resurfacing with the Titans, Berry pursued him again in the 2021 offseason and lured him to the Browns, who went 8-9 last year.
Clowney has started 88 of the 97 regular-season games in which he has appeared, including all 14 with the Browns. He has tallied 292 tackles, 41 sacks (including a single-season career-high 9½ in 2017), 105 quarterback hits, 12 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, one interception, 20 passes defensed and four touchdowns. In five career playoff games, he has 20 tackles, including 1½ sacks, five QB hits and an interception.
A native of Rock Hill, South Carolina, Clowney is not a fan of cold weather, yet he warmed up to the Browns last season.
Clowney loved playing with Garrett, and the feeling was mutual. Late last season, Clowney made it clear he was open to returning to Cleveland, though he conceded the money had to be right. Garrett said he wanted the franchise to retain his running mate and used social media to keep the recruitment alive this offseason.
The Browns added several defensive ends to their roster this offseason, but their need for a clear-cut starter opposite Garrett hadn't been addressed until Clowney committed to coming back.
Berry drafted Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas in the third and seventh rounds, respectively, acquired Chase Winovich from the New England Patriots in a trade for linebacker Mack Wilson and signed Stephen Weatherly and Isaac Rochell to one-year deals.
Still, Clowney remained the priority at defensive end this offseason, and Berry just crossed off an important item on his to-do list.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Jadeveon Clowney reaches deal to re-sign with Cleveland Browns