Baker Mayfield got a very special gift on his 26th birthday from the Cleveland Browns, with the team landing free agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
Mayfield reacted to the move on social media while receiving a bevy of birthday wishes.
“This is a nice birthday present,” Mayfield wrote on Instagram.
Clowney and Mayfield play on different sides of the ball but were both top overall picks in their respective drafts — Mayfield in 2018 and Clowney in 2014. Clowney’s new pass-rush partner Myles Garrett also went first overall in the 2017 draft.
Clowney Setting High Expectations With Browns
Clowney is coming off of a few down years that were marred by injury but is ready to prove that he can still be an impact player on defense.
“I’m here to prove I can still dominate in this league,” Clowney told reporters on a Zoom call Wednesday. “That’s what I’m here to prove this year. I want to show I’m still an elite player. You’re going to see this season.
“I’m capable of NFL Defensive Player of the Year,” he added. “All-Pro for sure.”
Clowney collected just 19 tackles — four for a loss — and no sacks last year with the Titans. That was coming off a season in Seattle where he missed time with a core injury and managed just three sacks.
But Clowney will now have the opportunity to play opposite of Garrett, who commands attention with his game-breaking ability.
“I’ve been double-teamed a lot in my career,” Clowney said. “I’d like them to focus on [Garrett]. It might take some pressure off myself.”
Clowney is the latest addition on the defensive side of the ball for the Browns, who already added safety John Johnson III, cornerback Troy Hill, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, linebacker Anthony Harris and defensive tackle Malik Jackson. All those names should help improve a unit that ranked 21st in the NFL in points allowed at 26.2 per game and was a major liability in the postseason.
“We’re going to find out how special a group it is when training camp comes,” Clowney said. “We’ve just got to play as a unit. There’s a bunch of talent on this defense, even in the secondary all the way to the front.”
Baker Mayfield’s Future Next Big Decision for Browns
With their defense set, the Browns brass could turn their attention to the future of the offense next, with a decision needing to be made on Mayfield.
Mayfield passed for 26 touchdowns and just eight picks last season, showing major improvement from a year ago. After picking up Kevin Stefanski’s offense, Mayfield thrived down the stretch, helping lead the Browns to their first postseason victory in over a quarter-century.
While nothing is too urgent, the Browns face a decision this offseason on his future, with the opportunity to pick up his fifth-year option — which would be valued at just over $10.5 million — or extend him long term.
“We have been pretty consistent with our messaging around Baker that we think he had a really strong season for us, we like the maturation and the growth, both on and off the field and we are looking forward to him continuing to take strides in his second year in the offense,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry told reporters earlier this month.
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