It's been no secret that Myles Garrett has wanted to keep Jadeveon Clowney as his teammate in 2022.
From the days after last season ended to as recently as April 22 — when he randomly tweeted a picture of him giving a high-five to a smiling Clowney — Garrett has longed for the Browns to keep Clowney around longer than one year. That's no surprise after Garrett collected a franchise single-season record 16 sacks in 2021 and enjoyed a bit more of a balance of attention opposing offenses must give the duo when Clowney, a three-time Pro Bowler, is also on the field.
"I feel like he's disruptive every time he's out there, especially when we are out there together and they can't key in on just one of us," Garrett said in January. "The guy is hitting his stride. I think he has a lot of football left, and he does know that."
On Wednesday, Garrett's wish was granted.
Clowney officially locked himself to Cleveland, thus creating another opportunity to terrorize quarterbacks with Garrett, by signing a contract extension with the Browns for the 2022 season. The signing will once again give the Browns one of the best pass rush duos in the NFL and should help them carry the success they built in 2021 as the fifth-ranked team in the league in pass defense.
Clowney and Garrett combined for 25 sacks last year, the highest total a Browns pass-rush duo had achieved since Reggie Camp (14) and Clay Matthews (12) collected 26 sacks in 1984. Certain opponents simply didn't hold the blocking resources to consistently defend a Garrett-Clowney tandem, which constantly affected offensive gameplans and allowed the rest of the Browns defense to be great.
Together, they produced one of the seasons of their individual careers and met the vision the Browns had when they aggressively pursued Clowney last offseason. The pairing was what general managers dream of when constructing a dominant defense and what offensive coordinators loathe preparing for when formulating pass-game plans for the week.
"(Jadeveon) had a really good season for us, was very productive against run and pass and a disruptive player," Executive VP of Football Ops and General Manager Andrew Berry said in January. "He paired nicely with the other guys who we had up front, obviously with (DE) Myles (Garrett) being at the forefront. He had a good year. He did the things that we envisioned when we signed him. Good season. Fit in nicely for us."
The strength of the Garrett-Clowney duo certainly showed in Clowney's individual production, too.
His nine sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in 2021 were his most in a season since 2018, and if it weren't for COVID-19 protocols sidelining Clowney for two games toward the end of the year, he might've been able to add a couple more sacks in Weeks 15-16. He collected 5.5 sacks in his last three games in Weeks 14 and 17-18 and was on a tear to close the year.
Clowney, 29, is still in the prime of his career, and he knows he can maximize that by playing on the same defensive line with Garrett.
"We've become real good guys and close to each other because we play together," Clowney said in January. "I pick his brain, and he picks mine. We feed off each other out there. It's a good thing to have someone on the other end that you don't worry about. You're just like, 'Hey, I'll meet you there [at the quarterback]."
Garrett and Clowney will have 17 more games at their disposal to do it. Clowney, 29, is at the peak of prime, and Garrett, 26, is only beginning to enter it — so it's not inconceivable to believe the duo is capable of setting even higher sack numbers in 2022.
That was only possible, however, if Clowney re-joined the Browns.
Now, the deal is done, and that only makes the Browns defense scarier and Clowney and Garrett happier.