The New York Giants have agreed to a trade that will send Pro Bowl outside linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for right guard Kevin Zeitler, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.
In addition, the Giants will send a fourth-round pick (132nd overall) in the upcoming NFL draft to the Browns in exchange for a fifth-round selection (155th overall), a source told ESPN.
Vernon led the Giants last season with 7 sacks and 21 quarterback hits in 11 games. That was more than twice as many quarterback hits as any other player on the team. He played linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 defensive scheme last season, but has played at defensive end in a 4-3 package.
He is scheduled to make $15.5 million in each of the next two seasons. With the addition of Zeitler, the trade will save the Giants $1.5 million against the cap.
The Giants had talks about moving Vernon at the NFL scouting combine. They were looking to move on if they thought they could get another top pass-rusher, so another move is likely in their future.
If healthy, Vernon figures to bolster a Browns defensive line that includes Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi. Vernon could start at left end, though the Browns also have Emmanuel Ogbah there.
Injuries have been Vernon’s biggest problem since signing a five-year, $84.75 million deal as the Giants’ prized free agent in the 2016 offseason. He has missed nine games the past two seasons with various injuries. He didn’t miss a game during his first five years in the league.
Vernon, 28, spent the first four years of his career with the Miami Dolphins and has 51 career sacks in 103 games.
Zeitler, who turned 29 on Friday, is due $32 million over the next three seasons, including $10 million in 2019.
With the addition of Vernon, the Browns lose $10.3 million in cap space.
The trade of Zeitler opens a spot for Austin Corbett, the 33rd pick in last year’s draft. Corbett saw very limited time as a rookie.
A first-round pick by the Bengals in 2012, Zeitler was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2016. In his five seasons with Cincinnati, he started every game but one in his 72 appearances. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal with Cleveland in March 2017.
ESPN’s Jordan Raanan and Pat McManamon contributed to this report.
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