CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns saw the return of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney earlier this offseason, linking him to a 1-year contract and bringing back the strong pass-rushing duo he created across from Myles Garrett. But while Garrett and other players recruited him for months, another new Brown might have been the real catalyst for Clowney's decision to return.
Clowney had a resurging season with the Browns last year, notching nine sacks, 37 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two passes defended. His first season with the Browns showcased the pass-rusher that had made a name for himself in past seasons in Houston.
Garrett had made some social media posts expressing his desire to see Clowney return to Cleveland, and linebacker Anthony Walker reached out through text.
“I text him about a month ago, and he didn’t text me back," Walker said last month. "So then I saw him and I gave him a little look and he gave me a little look and we left it at that, and then I text him after he signed back and he texted me one thing: Super Bowl, that’s it. So happy to have him back, for sure.”
However, it was a combination of Clowney's success last season, mixed with a former teammate, quarterback Deshaun Watson, signing with the Browns that really made his decision clear.
“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. Then my boy came here, Deshaun," Clowney said Wednesday after the final minicamp session.
Clowney and Watson were in touch through both of their decision making processes, keeping an eye on what the other was going to do as they weighed their options.
"I talked to him a few times before he signed and after he signed. We stayed in touch during the whole little thing about coming here. If he comes or if I come, what is going to happen?" Clowney recalled. "I told him if he goes then I will follow him over here and I will go back. That is what it came down to.”
While Watson's acquisition was a major catalyst in Clowney's decision to re-sign with the Browns, Garrett's recruiting efforts did not go unnoticed.
"That's my boy. Me and [Garrett] do some good things together. We got along well. We played well together. We fed off of each other," Clowney said. "Come here and do the same thing again this year, even better because that was our first year, we didn't know each other like that and we got a good thing going from last year. Try to keep it going this year.”
Clowney, who was in attendance for a week of the voluntary OTAs this offseason as well as the mandatory minicamp, said being able to return to the defense that he grew accustomed to and developed bonds with last year is big for him and something he hopes can keep his momentum from last season going through 2022.
"It's the whole total defense to me. Not just playing with [Garrett] but our whole linebacker core was new to me, and everybody is back. To have the guy behind you already know how he feels and what he likes to do, it makes it easier on myself," Clowney said. "I can look back there and say I don't have to ask because I already know what he does. That's what makes it a lot better playing with the same guys again instead of bouncing around and trying to figure out new guys on the way.”
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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