BEREA – Jadeveon Clowney has already played his final game of the season for the Cleveland Browns. It’s probably his last match ever with them as well.
The Browns on Saturday officially ruled Clowney out of Sunday’s season finale at the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former All-Pro defensive end will not travel with the team for the game, meaning rookie fourth-round pick Alex Wright will make his fifth start of the season.
Linebacker Storey Jackson and defensive end Sam Kamara were both also elevated from the practice squad for game day.
The decision was the latest act in a Senuke drama that unfolded after Clowney, an unrestricted free agent after this season, made inflammatory comments in an interview with Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot on Thursday. Those comments not only spoke to his future with the team, but also took shots at Brown’s coaching staff, particularly for what he perceived as favoritism in schemes designed for his teammate, All-Pro end Myles Garrett.
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Clowney attended a defensive line meeting Friday, but was subsequently sent home. Coach Kevin Stefanski wouldn’t talk about Clowney’s status against the Steelers when asked about it after practice.
“I think you know me and you know what I do,” Stefanski said. “I’m going to keep all these discussions internal. What I want to tell you is that nothing comes across the team.”
The comments and subsequent team-issued discipline were the latest act in a drama involving the former No. 1 overall pick that appeared to begin in Week 7 when the Browns lost at the Baltimore Ravens. In that game, Clowney — who had missed three of the previous four games with an ankle injury — played just 23 of a possible 64 defensive snaps (36%), and recorded one quarterback hit.
On Friday, defensive line coach Chris Kiffin confirmed that Clowney would not enter the game, except on third downs. His frustration apparently stemmed from a decision that game to flip the sides the two ends played, with Garrett lining up over right tackle and Clowney, he believed, getting a tougher matchup with Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley.
“I don’t think I knew until about Tuesday, Wednesday of that week (after the game),” Garrett said Friday. “It didn’t really occur to me to ask or think about it just because that was my assumption. I thought it’s not like he doesn’t want to play. If he can play, he’s going to go out and play. I mean, that has been his mindset as well as we’ve talked about. But, I mean, the proof is in the pudding.”
Clowney did not start or appear in the first defensive series the next week, when the Browns defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on “Monday Night Football,” which Kiffin confirmed Friday was a disciplinary action from the previous game. He played 36 of a possible 53 defensive snaps (68%), recording one solo and one assisted tackle.
The only other game in which Clowney played but did not start was the Browns’ Week 15 home rematch with the Ravens. The Browns started three defensive tackles — Ben Stille, Jordan Elliott and Taven Bryan — along with Garrett for that game, though Clowney played 22 snaps before leaving in the second quarter with a concussion.
Clowney missed four games this season due to injuries. There were three in September and October because of an ankle injury in Week 2, then the Christmas Eve game against New Orleans because of the concussion protocol.
In 12 games this season, Clowney finished with 28 tackles, 14 of them solo, plus two sacks, three quarterback hits and four tackles for loss. He also had a forced fumble, which he also recovered, on a strip sack.
Clowney signed two one-year deals with the Browns. He finished with 65 tackles, 11 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 26 career games in Cleveland.
The unrestricted free agent market officially opens at 4pm on March 15th.