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Olivier Vernon restructures contract, keeping him in Cleveland for 2020

Defensive end Olivier Vernon isn’t going anywhere.

So Jadeveon Clowney likely isn’t coming to Cleveland.

The Browns and Vernon restructured his contract, a league source confirmed Tuesday to The Chronicle-Telegram.

Vernon was due a non-guaranteed $15.25 million salary in 2020, the final year of his contract. The new deal guarantees him $11 million, including a $7 million signing bonus, with the chance to earn $2 million more in incentives, ESPN reported.

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The large, non-guaranteed salary made Vernon vulnerable to being cut. The Browns were interested in signing Clowney, who remains a free agent, to replace Vernon but were unable to reach an agreement.

Vernon’s willingness to take a pay cut in exchange for the guaranteed money solidifies his spot on the roster. He’s expected to keep his starting spot opposite Myles Garrett.

“Olivier is a good football player, and we like having good football players on the roster,” first-year general manager Andrew Berry said at the conclusion of the draft in April. “He is a talented defensive end. He is here and will continue to be here.”

New defensive coordinator Joe Woods said in May that Vernon was “great” during the virtual offseason program despite the uncertainty of his situation.

“All of my conversations have been good with him,” Woods said. “He is 100 percent attendance. In all the meetings, he has been there and he is speaking up.

“He really wants to just come back this year, play healthy and just show everybody what he is capable of doing. So far, he has been great.”

Clowney’s original asking price was near $20 million per year, and even though it’s dropped, the Browns aren’t expected to pay a premium for a third end. They previously signed veteran Adrian Clayborn to a two-year, $5.75 million deal in free agency.

Vernon joined the Browns in March 2019 in a trade with the Giants, who received right guard Kevin Zeitler.

Vernon, 29, got off to a slow start in Cleveland. He had only four tackles and no sacks through three games before making more of an impact, especially against the run.

But a knee injury suffered against the Broncos in Week 9 caused him to miss six of the last eight games. He finished with 3.5 sacks, 26 tackles, 11 quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

“Obviously I think Olivier is a really great player,” first-year coach Kevin Stefanski said after the draft. “Unfortunately he was banged up a little bit, but we look forward to all our guys contributing next year.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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