BEREA – Jadeveon Clowney has already played his last game of the season for the Cleveland Browns. It’s also probably his last game with them.
The Browns officially ruled Clowney out of Sunday’s season finale with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The former All-Pro defensive end will not travel with the team for the game, meaning fourth-round rookie Alex Wright will make his fifth start of the season.
Linebacker Storey Jackson and defensive end Sam Kamara were both added to the gameday roster from the practice team as well.
The decision was the latest act in late-week drama that unfolded after Clowney, an unrestricted post-season free agent, made inflammatory remarks in an interview with Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot on Thursday. Those comments not only spoke about his future with the team, but also took a toll on the Browns’ coaching staff, particularly what he perceived as favoring plans for his teammate All-Pro and Myles Garrett.
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Clowney attended a defensive line meeting on Friday but was then sent home. Coach Kevin Stefanski didn’t discuss Clowney’s status against the Steelers when asked about it after practice.
“I think you know me and you know what I’m about,” said Stefanski. “I will have all these discussions internally. What I would tell you is that nothing beats the team.”
The comments and subsequent discipline imposed by the team were the final act in a drama involving the former No. 1 overall that appeared to begin in Week 7 when the Browns lost to 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 come into play except on third downs. His frustration apparently stemmed from a decision that the game turned sides playing the two played ends, with Garrett placing over the right tackle and what he believed Clowney got a tougher matchup with Raven’s left tackle Ronnie Stanley.
“I didn’t think I knew until about Tuesday, Wednesday this week (after the game),” Garrett said Friday. “Really, it didn’t occur to me to ask or think about it just because that was my guess. I thought it’s not like he wasn’t playing. If he can play, he’ll go out there and play. I mean, that was his mindset as well that we talked about. But I think the proof is in the pudding.
Clowney didn’t start or appear on the first defensive series the next week when the Browns defeated the Cincinnati Bengals at Monday Night Football, which Kiffin confirmed Friday as a disciplinary action from the previous game. He played 36 of the possible 53 defensive snaps (68%) and recorded one solo and one assist tackle.
The only other game Clowney played but did not start was the Browns’ Week 15 rematch against the Ravens. The Browns started three defensive tackles — Ben Stille, Jordan Elliott and Taven Bryan — along with Garrett for this game, though Clowney played 22 snaps before leaving in the second quarter with a concussion.
Clowney missed four games this season through injury. There were three in September and October due to an ankle injury in week 2, then the Christmas Eve game against New Orleans because it was on record with a concussion.
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 fiddle, which he picked up again, on a strip sack.
Clowney signed two one-year contracts with the Browns. He finished his 26 career games in Cleveland with 65 tackles, 11 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The unrestricted free agent market will officially open on March 15 at 4:00 p.m.