The Cleveland Browns' pass rush has the potential to be one of the team's biggest strengths in 2020. With Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon on the edges, they should have no trouble consistently putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
However, could that Browns unit get even better? And could it remain a strength for years to come?
A lot of the recent buzz surrounding Cleveland has involved that unit, as rumors swirl around free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who remains on the market, and the long-term future of Garrett. And it's possible those will continue to be hot topics leading up to the start of training camp.
Here are some of the latest rumors about the Browns involving Garrett and Clowney.
Possible "mega-extension" coming for Garrett?
Over his first three NFL seasons, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has lived up to expectations after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. In 37 games, he has 30.5 sacks, 13.5 of which came in his impressive 2018 season. That year, he played all 16 games and earned his first career Pro Bowl selection.
Garrett is only under contract with Cleveland for two more seasons, meaning he'd hit the free-agent market for the first time in 2022. However, the Browns appear to be on the way to prevent that from happening.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Browns and Garrett have recently "engaged in contract discussions," which could set the stage for a "mega-extension" for the 24-year-old pass rusher. Fowler also noted that Cleveland could need to pay Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Denzel Ward in the next few years, so it could be nice to get Garrett's long-term deal done early.
Last season, Garrett had 10 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 10 games. He missed the last six games of the year while serving a suspension for an on-field scuffle that took place Nov. 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Garrett hit quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet.
But the Browns appear ready to move on after Garrett later issued an apology for the incident, as evidenced by recent comments from Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry.
"We do see Myles as a long-term member and pillar in our organization," Berry told 105.7 the Fan Baltimore in May, according to Fowler. "Great player, great person. Obviously, he did make a mistake last year that he's learned from. But our confidence in and faith in Myles has not wavered and we're looking to seeing what he does this year and certainly for years to come.''
And if Garrett and the Browns soon come to terms on this potential "mega-extension," then he could be a key member of their defense for many years ahead.
Browns still trying to add free-agent Clowney?
Jadeveon Clowney is one of the top free agents still available this offseason, but that doesn't mean he hasn't had offers on the table.
One of those offers reportedly came from the Browns last month, and although they haven't yet landed the 27-year-old defensive end, they "haven't given up on the idea," according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. In May, ESPN's Adam Schefter said during a radio appearance that Cleveland's offer was the highest that Clowney had received this offseason.
"I think they've been the most aggressive team with him financially," Schefter said on 850 ESPN Cleveland, according to Cabot. "I just think he has balked at going to Cleveland for whatever reason. I think he's been hesitant to go, because if he wasn't, he would have gone already, because it's the most money. It's the richest offer on the table and he hasn't taken it. Why is that? I don't know."
Schefter added that it isn't clear why Clowney didn't accept the Browns' offer, but he noted that the situation could still change.
Like Garrett, Clowney is a former No. 1 overall draft pick. He was selected by the Houston Texans with the pick in 2014. Over his five years in Houston, he had 29 sacks in 62 games and went to three Pro Bowls. However, he only played all 16 games in a season once, which was in 2017.
Clowney was traded to the Seattle Seahawks just before the start of the 2019 season, and his lone year with them was a bit disappointing, as he had only three sacks in 13 games.
But Clowney likely still has some productive seasons ahead of him. And if he came to Cleveland, he'd join a pass-rush unit that already has Garrett and Olivier Vernon. That could help him put up bigger numbers, as opposing offensive lines might struggle to block two top pass rushers at a time.