Jadeveon Clowney admitted there was one major factor in his decision to re-sign with the Cleveland Browns during the offseason. That reason is Deshaun Watson.
Clowney signed a one-year deal with the Browns for the 2021 season and was a free agent during this past offseason. After registering nine sacks in his first year in Cleveland, the three-time Pro Bowl selection received plenty on interest from other NFL organizations.
When he learned the Browns were trading for Watson – his former teammate while with the Houston Texans – Clowney decided to stay in Cleveland.
“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can get better and pick off from what I did last year,” Clowney told reporters. “Then my boy came here, Deshaun.
“I was all about where my boy Deshaun was going. When I talked to them, I said, ‘I played with him. He kept us off the field a lot.’ … I just wanted to go play with him, see what I could do with him again.”
The Browns traded three first-round picks to Houston to land Watson. The quarterback received a fully-guaranteed, five-year contract worth $230 million.
Clowney was also encouraged by the success he enjoyed playing alongside Myles Garrett last season. Combined, Clowney and Garrett were responsible for 88 tackles, 25 sacks and three forced fumbles during the 2021 campaign.
“Me and [Garrett] did some good things together,” Clowney said. “We got along well, we played well together, fed off each other. We’re going to do the same thing this year, even better. … We got a good thing going from last year. We want to keep it going this year.”
Despite the success for the two defensive linemen, the Browns suffered their 14th losing season in the past 15 years, ending 2021 with an 8-9 record.
Watson Maintains His Innocence
Jadeveon Clowney might’ve re-signed with Cleveland for the chance to play with Deshaun Watson again but there’s no guarantee the quarterback sees the field in 2022.
Watson is facing 24 active civil lawsuits alleging he acted inappropriately during massage sessions. The quarterback avoided criminal charges from two Texas grand juries over the alleged sexual misconduct cases, but he could potentially face punishment from the NFL.
As part of its investigation into whether he violated the league’s code of conduct, the NFL interviewed Watson in May. The quarterback maintains his innocence. He says he “never assaulted, disrespected or harassed anyone.”
“I do understand that I do have regrets as far as the impact that [it’s had] on the community and people outside of just myself,” Watson said, per ESPN. “And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. That includes males, females, everyone across the, the world. That’s one thing I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people. It’s tough to have to deal with.”
Watson has not played in an NFL contest since the regular-season finale for the 2020-21 season. He threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns with just seven interceptions and added 444 rushing yards. The Texans finished with a 4-12 record.
Following the season, Watson requested a traded from the Texans. In March, he faced an accusation of sexual misconduct by a massage therapist in Houston.
The NFL and league commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to make a decision on Watson’s status for the 2022 season. A suspension could be coming for the former first-round pick, but Clowney says he’s not focused on that right now.
“We’ve got a good defense, we can hold it together,” he said. “We did good last year, and we were banged up on offense all over the place and our defense played well for what we had going on.”
Cleveland begins its season with a road trip to Carolina to play the Panthers on Sept. 11.