Clowney told Cleveland.com on Thursday that he was “95% sure” that he wouldn’t sign with the Browns again this offseason due largely to how the franchise is comparing him to Garrett. Clowney was even sent home before practice on Friday, and it’s unclear if the Browns will play him on Sunday in their regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I just feel like I need to be around somebody that believes in me and my ability,” Clowney said, via Cleveland.com. “[It can’t] be just me believing in myself. I believe in myself more than anybody … You’re all trying to get [Garrett] into the Hall of Fame when all that matters is winning. Everybody got here for a reason, and we can all make plays. I know I am.”
Clowney has 28 total tackles and two sacks this season in Cleveland, his second with the franchise. He had nine sacks last year. Garrett, on the other hand, has 15 sacks this season — which is just 2.5 behind Nick Bosa’s league-best 17.5.
While Clowney insisted that he doesn’t have any personal issues with Garrett, this issue has apparently been brewing for a while. Before the Browns fell to the Ravens in October, Clowney learned that he’d be swapping sides with Garrett. That didn’t sit well with him, and prompted him to refuse to play on first or second down.
“We practiced all week, and we get in the game and they want to move me,” Clowney said, via Cleveland.com. “I’m not doing that. I’m old. I’ve done my job … I don’t have time for that. I’ve made my money. I’m doing this because I love the game, but keep [doing things like that] and making me not love the game.”
Garrett didn’t even realize that Clowney was sitting out on purpose until a week later. Garrett said he “assumed” Clowney was hurt.
“I don’t even think [Garrett] notices,” Clowney said of the position switches, via Cleveland.com. “I ain’t trying to say it’s him. I try to get along with everybody I play with. Me and him don’t have a problem. It ain’t his fault.
“It’s just B.S., and I don’t have time for it.”
Garrett on Clowney: I want 'volunteers, not hostages'
Garrett addressed Clowney’s comments on Friday, and said he was both disappointed and “a little bit confused.”
“I knew he was frustrated,” Garrett said, via ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “We’ve all been frustrated, we’re not winning. I wish we could’ve talked about this man-to-man … I wish he would have handled it a little bit differently.”
As for the position changes or shuffling on the line, Garrett doesn’t see it that way. Per ESPN, he’s actually faced the highest double-team rate of any edge rusher in the league this season — which he thinks opens up plenty of opportunity for Clowney to step in and succeed.
"If I'm the most double-teamed guy, it's hard to say I'm getting the most favorable matchups," Garrett said, via ESPN. "What I've done speaks for itself. Of course they're going to put me in positions to make plays. But they're also going to be positions where I'm going to get double-teamed. I move all over the line. [Clowney] has moved, as well. We're both moved to be put in favorable matchups. He's getting those same looks, at least that's what I see. And I wish we could have talked about it."
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski declined to answer several questions about the situation on Friday. Clowney is in the final year of a one-year, $10 million deal with the Browns.
As for whether Garrett wants Clowney back on the team, either for Sunday’s game or beyond, he said he isn’t going to force anything. He wants “volunteers, not hostages.”
“If you feel like no one believes in you here, then go where you feel like you’re wanted and loved and appreciated,” he said, via ESPN.