3 Browns players who would be most impacted by J.J. Watt signing

Jan 17, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws under pressure against Cleveland Browns defensive end Adrian Clayborn (94) during the first half in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Several Browns defenders would be impacted if the team lands J.J. Watt in free agency.

The Cleveland Browns have reached a rare level this offseason. J.J. Watt is reportedly considering signing with the Browns, meaning that franchise has finally risen out of the NFL’s basement in terms of reputation.

Watt will have plenty of options and the Browns stand out as a great fit. He would pair up alongside Myles Garrett and should get a contract to his liking because of the team’s available cap space.

Such a signing would also have impacts all throughout the roster. Three defenders in particular would be impacted the most, for both good and bad reasons.

3. Adrian Clayborn

The 32-year-old Clayborn was a nice addition for the Browns in 2020. He played in 15 games, finishing with 3.5 sacks as a solid rotational piece.

Clayborn is now set to earn $3 million in 2021 with only a $500,000 dead cap value. The Browns do have the cap space to keep him aboard even with Watt. However, he may not get enough playing time to warrant spending that money.

A younger player like Porter Gustin could be that rotational piece to fill in for Watt and Garrett if needed. Clayborn could then seek out a team where he can get more playing time.

Browns fans must also remember the team is thinking about extensions for Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward. Cutting Clayborn’s money, while small, goes toward those big-money deals and also maintains financial flexibility to maximize the return on spending.

Clayborn was able to fill in when Olivier Vernon could not play. That is another name to keep an eye on.

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