The New York Giants have traded Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns for guard Kevin Zeitler, a source confirmed to NorthJersey.com and USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey.
Zeitler will represent a significant upgrade at guard and step in immediately, likely on the right side. The Giants will send a fourth-round pick (No. 132) in exchange for a fifth-round pick (No. 155) from the Browns to complete the deal.
Zeitler was the highest-rated pass blocking guard in the NFL last year with a 91.7 grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Vernon was a prized free agent in 2016 under former general manager Jerry Reese when he signed a five-year, $85 million contract. But high ankle sprains each of the past two seasons have limited his production.
In three seasons with the Giants, Vernon has appeared in 39 games, recording 22 sacks. He should be formidable in Cleveland rushing opposite budding star Myles Garrett.
Zeitler, 29, has played in 104 career games (103 starts) since being taken in the first-round of the 2012 NFL Draft. In 2019, he earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 74.5, which was good for sixth-best in the NFL.
Vernon’s cap hit this year is $19.5 million, and if he were to depart, the Giants would be responsible for $8 million of his salary in dead money with a total cap savings of $11.5 million. The Giants gain $1.5 million in space with the Zeitler-for-Vernon swap.
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