In addition, the Giants will send the Browns a fourth-round pick (No. 132 overall) in next month’s NFL Draft. Cleveland will send the Giants a fifth-round pick (No. 155 overall).
The trade will not become official until the start of the new league year at 4:00 PM EDT Wednesday.
Vernon led the Giants in sacks (seven) and quarterback hits (21) in 2018 despite playing in just 11 games. He played linebacker in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme last season but also saw time as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
He is scheduled to make $15.5 million in 2019 and 2020. With the addition of Zeitler, the Giants will save $1.5 million against the salary cap.
There were talks of moving Vernon at last week’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis. It was rumored the Giants were willing to move on if they thought they could acquire another pass rusher. Trading Vernon could mean another move is in the Giants’ future.
Vernon signed a five-year, $84.75 million deal in 2016. He missed nine games in the past two seasons with injury after not missing a game in his first five NFL seasons. At the same time, Cleveland believes Vernon (when healthy) can bolster a defensive line that already has Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi.
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Vernon has 319 combined tackles (229 solo), 51 sacks, and 130 quarterback hits in 103 career NFL games.
Zeitler, who turned 29 on Friday, is scheduled to make $32 million over the next three seasons (including $10 million in 2019). He was a 2012 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. In five seasons, he started in 71 of a possible 72 games. Zeitler signed a five-year, $60 million deal with Cleveland in 2017.
He provides an immediate upgrade to an offensive line that struggled to protect quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants allowed 47 sacks of Manning in 2018. In spite of the porous line, running back Saquon Barkley was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Giants also re-signed center Jon Halapio Friday. In 2018, Halapio started the first two games last season before suffering fractures of his lower right leg and ankle. He was placed on injured reserve after surgery.