BEREA, Ohio — Jadeveon Clowney admitted Thursday that he finally decided he would re-sign with the Cleveland Browns once he found out quarterback Deshaun Watson would also be heading to Cleveland.
“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can improve and build on what I did last year,” the defensive end said, listing the reasons for returning to the Browns.
“Then my boy came here, Deshaun.”
Clowney is coming off a stellar season with the Browns after signing a one-year contract last year. Playing alongside All-Pro passing thrower Myles Garrett, Clowney finished with nine sacks; Garrett and Clowney both ranked in the NFL’s top four in pass rush success rates.
“Me and [Garrett] done good things together,” Clowney said as the Browns wrapped up their final minicamp practice at FirstEnergy Stadium. “We got along well. We played well together. We fed each other. We’re going to do the same this year, even better. … We have a good thing from last year. We want keep it going this year.”
What tipped the scales for Clowney, however, was the opportunity to replay with Watson, his former teammate with the Houston Texans.
“I was all about where my boy Deshaun was going,” Clowney said. “I just wanted to go play with him and see what I can do with him again.”
The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans.
A source told ESPN that Clowney spoke to Watson the week of the trade when Watson was still considering joining the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons and that in their conversation , Clowney had given Cleveland and the Browns a strong endorsement.
“I told him that if he left [to Cleveland]so I’ll follow him here,” Clowney said.
However, it’s still unclear when Clowney will actually star with Watson. Watson faces 24 active civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior during massage sessions.
Although two grand juries in Texas declined to prosecute Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its code of conduct and the league interviewed the quarterback in person last month as part of its investigation. At the league’s spring meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell said he believed the NFL was nearing the end of its investigation, but could not give a timeline for when a decision might be made. . Watson has maintained his innocence, reiterating on Tuesday that he has never “harassed”, “disrespected” or “forced” a woman.
Clowney said he’s not worried that a possible suspension of Watson could derail Cleveland’s season.
“We have a good defence, we can hold on,” he said. “We did well last year, and we were beaten in attack everywhere and our defense played well for what we had going on. … We’ll be fine.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.