The Browns acquired Giants pass rusher Olivier Vernon in a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants.
Here are five things to know about Cleveland’s new defensive end.
1. Vernon, an eight-year veteran, is coming off arguably his best season in the NFL. It was injury-shortened, yes, but he was as good on a per-snap basis as he’s ever been. According to Pro Football Focus, Vernon ranked 25th among edge rushers in pass rush productivity and fifth in pass rush win rate. Overall, the website viewed him as the NFL’s 13th-best pass rusher. In 11 games, Vernon had 30 tackles, seven sacks and a forced fumble. He missed the first five games with a high ankle sprain.
2. Injuries prevented Vernon from logging full seasons in each of the past two years with the Giants, but he didn’t miss a game from 2013-16. He broke out in 2013, his second year with the Dolphins, with 11.5 sacks while playing opposite of five-time Pro Bowler Cameron Wake. He hasn’t had fewer than 6.5 sacks since then, as he comes to Cleveland with 51 for his career. Vernon’s free agent deal with the Giants in 2016 was one of the biggest in the league (non-quarterback) at the time. "It's not even about the money to me," Vernon told NJ.com at the time. "I was fortunate enough to get all the money, but it isn't about that for me. It's about respect.”
The Browns acquired edge rusher Olivier Vernon via trade with the New York Giants. View an assortment of photos featuring Vernon throughout his seven seasons in the NFL.
3. In all but one of his NFL seasons, Vernon has been a defensive end, and that’s likely where he’ll play in defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ 4-3 scheme. This past year was different, as Vernon switched to outside linebacker in Giants coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme. He didn’t seem fazed by the switch at all and wound up in the Pro Bowl after being originally tabbed as an alternate. He did so on a Giants defense that significantly lacked any other sort of pass rushers. His 21 quarterback hits were the most on the team by a long shot.
4. When the Dolphins selected Vernon in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, they did so mostly based on his potential. Vernon had just nine sacks over three seasons at the University of Miami and just 1.5 in a suspension-shortened junior year. Vernon made his tackles count, though, as 20.5 of the 81 he compiled at The U went for a loss. Vernon was the 11th-ranked weakside defensive end in Rivals.com’s class of 2009 coming out of high school. The only player ranked ahead of him who is still playing in the NFL is Eagles All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
5. Vernon, whose mother hails from Switzerland and father hails from Jamaica, is named after the famous actor Sir Laurence Olivier. He grew up in Plantation, Florida, which is located just outside of Miami, and attended American High School. On top of football, Olivier also lettered in track and field.