Jadeveon Clowney says reuniting with Deshaun Watson was big in decision to re-sign with Cleveland Browns

Chris Easterling
Akron Beacon Journal

CLEVELAND – Jadeveon Clowney was more than happy to reunite in Cleveland with Myles Garrett. There was another former teammate of his that also drew him back to the Browns.

Deshaun Watson.

"I talked to him a few times before he signed, after he signed," the Browns defensive end said during the final day of minicamp inside the stadium. "We stayed in touch through that whole thing about coming here. If he come, then I come. I told him if he goes, I'll follow him up here. I'll go back. That's what it came down to."

Both Clowney and Watson were first-round draft picks of the Houston Texans. Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick in 2014. Watson was selected No. 12 overall in the 2017 draft.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in Berea.

The two played together for two seasons with the Texans before Clowney was traded to the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2019 season. In those two seasons, he was selected to two Pro Bowls while playing a combined 31 of a possible 33 games for Houston.

Clowney spent the next two seasons playing a combined 21 games between the Seahawks and Titans. He signed with the Browns prior to last season on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million with incentives.

Last year and this upcoming season are the first time Clowney has played consecutive years with the same team since the final two seasons with the Texans and Watson.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in Berea.

"I was all about where my boy Deshaun was going," said Clowney, who signed a one-year deal worth as much as $11 million with incentives in May. "When I talked to them, I said, ‘I played with him, he kept us off the field a lot.’ I was like, ‘I know you’re going to keep us off the field, you put up a lot of points, put us in rushing situations instead of having to stop the run all the time.’ I just wanted to go play with him and see what I can do with him again."

Of course, how much the two will be able to play together remains up in the air. Watson is facing 24 lawsuits in Texas alleging sexual misconduct while getting massages, with 22 of those having occurred in March and April of 2021 while he was still with the Texans.

The quarterback did not play at all last season in Houston, before being traded to the Browns on March 18. He remains under investigation by the NFL for potential violations of the personal conduct policy, which could lead to a suspension.

Clowney said he didn't spend time talking to Watson about what he called his "personal biz." However, he felt confident in the Browns' ability to weather any potential suspension on the field.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in Berea.

"We’ve got a good defense, we can hold it together," Clowney 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. We’ve got the same defense back, couple additional pieces.  We’re going to be all right."

No piece may be as big as the one lining up on the opposite side of Clowney along the defensive line. Garrett earned his second first-team All-Pro nod last year after setting a single-season franchise record with 16 sacks, long with 33 quarterback hits, 51 tackles, three passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 17 games.

On the other side, Clowney was voted as a Pro Bowl alternate after recording 37 tackles, with nine sacks, 19 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and two passes defensed. He played in 14 of 17 games, the most he's played in one season since he played in 15 in 2018.

"Me and him did some good things together," Clowney said. "We got along well. We played well together. We fed off each other. We felt like we come here and do the same thing. Even better. That was our first year and we know each other better. We got a good thing going from last year. We want to keep it going."

Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Jordan Elliott, left, and Jadeveon Clowney share a lighter moment during minicamp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in Canton, Ohio, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

With Clowney and Garret bookending the line, the Browns defense finished fifth overall in yards allowed with 311.5 per game. They also finished tied for ninth in team sacks, with 43 total.

Clowney gives the Browns nine of their 11 starters back on the defensive side of the ball. The only new starters will be at defensive tackle, with free-agent signee Taven Bryan and 2020 third-round pick Jordan Elliott the leaders to fill the spots coming out of minicamp.

As much as Clowney believes there's a benefit of a second year together with Garrett, it doesn't stop there. He's putting high expectations on everything the Browns can do on that side of the ball.

"It's like the whole total defense to me," Clowney said. "Not just playing with him, but the whole linebacker corps was new to me. Everybody's back. To have the guy behind you already know how he fill and what he likes to do, that makes it easy on myself. I can look back there and not have to ask, because he already know what he's going to do. That's what makes it a lot better playing with the same guys instead of bouncing around and trying to figure out who guys are."

Reach Chris at ceasterling@thebeaconjournal.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterling ABJ