Sources: Giants agree to trade Vernon to Browns

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 for a fifth-round selection (155th overall), a source told ESPN.

The trade won’t become official until the start of the NFL year on Wednesday.

Vernon led the Giants last season with seven 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 missed nine games over 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.

The Giants struggled mightily to protect Eli Manning last season, allowing 47 sacks. But running back Saquon Barkley was the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year despite playing behind an inconsistent unit.

In addition to adding Zeitler, the Giants on Friday re-signed center Jon Halapio, who had been an exclusive-rights free agent. After starting the first two games last season, he suffered fractures of his lower right leg and ankle against Dallas and was placed on injured reserve following surgery.

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.

The trade of Zeitler opens a spot with the Browns for Austin Corbett, the 33rd pick in last year’s draft. Corbett saw very limited playing time as a rookie.

With the addition of Vernon, the Browns lose $10.3 million in cap space.

ESPN’s Jordan Raanan and Pat McManamon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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