Chase Winovich hopes to be with the Cleveland Browns for a long time

Cleveland Browns defensive end Chase Winovich laughs as he walks off the field after the NFL football team’s football camp in Berea on Wednesday.

BEREA — Chase Winovich saw his nine-year growth of blond hair hit the living room floor, and the personal transformation soon marked what he believes could be his football renaissance.

The then-New England Patriots tight end was alone in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, working in the offseason. While meditating, he said he fell asleep and dreamed it was time to cut his hair.

His long locks defined him during his career at the University of Michigan, where he was an Associated Press Third Team All-American, an All-Big Ten selection and the Wolverines’ MVP in 2018. He maintained the flowing style after being drafted in the third round by the Patriots in 2019.

The morning after his dream, Winovich only told his mother before going to a random salon. The stylist told him he didn’t have any open appointments all weekend, so he turned to leave.

“He was like, ‘Are you Chase Winovich?’ he recalled on Thursday. “I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He says, “Actually, I’m free in about 20 minutes.”

Three days later, on March 15, he was traded to the Browns for linebacker Mack Wilson, a two-player trade in the final year of their rookie contracts.

“The Grim Reaper called me into Bill’s office and they told me I was being traded,” Winovich said of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the staff that called him. “That’s the first thing I said, ‘Didn’t you like the haircut?’

Chase Winovich played two seasons for the Patriots after being a third-round draft pick in 2019 out of Michigan.

Chase Winovich played two seasons for the Patriots after being a third-round draft pick in 2019 out of Michigan.

The free-spirited Winovich now plays defensive end for the Browns, backing up three-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney and sitting next to two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler Myles Garrett in meetings. Winovich told the Beacon Journal in May that the trade “could be the best thing that ever happened to me.”

But Winovich had to survive Tuesday’s final cuts after straining his left hamstring on the third play of the Aug. 12 preseason opener at Jacksonville. Winovich said he tore his right hamstring last season, so he stuck with the injury against the Jaguars, playing 23 snaps on defense and 10 on special teams.

Winovich returned to practice on Wednesday.

Assistant GM Glenn Cook believes:Cleveland Browns front office believes young receivers deserve ‘opportunities to grow’

“Injuries are a discovery process as much as a recovery process,” Winovich said. “It was a bummer not to be out there, but it was great to be able to go and get my feet wet again.”

Winovich said the biggest thing he’s taken from three years with Hall of Famer Belichick is to “ignore the noise.” This was tested during speculation about the Browns final roster.

“There’s a lot of things that people say that you can get caught up in and if you do that it saps your energy, saps your emotional strength,” Winovich said of Belichick’s teachings. “And just figuring that out internally and not relying on the whims of the crowd or other people who might comment on these things is ultimately the way to go about your business.

“If you feed the narrative of people who aren’t necessarily in that building or certain things, it could lead you to certain conclusions. But after all, I was in New England. I made the roster every year. They traded for me. I thought I had a good camp so far [the injury]. It’s like… there’s a plan, I’ve got a job to do, and until I’m told otherwise, I’m going to keep doing it.”

While awaiting his fate, Winovich said he felt trusted by the front office.

“I think there’s a huge trust factor and it’s a mutual respect,” Winovich said. “I mean it honestly, I’ve enjoyed my time not only with the football team, but in the Cleveland area. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my teammates. I’ve really enjoyed the coaching I’ve received here, and I hope to be a Cleveland Brown for a long time time, so we’ll see.”

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick congratulates defensive lineman Chase Winovich (50) on a good play during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/ Stew Milne) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick congratulates defensive lineman Chase Winovich (50) on a good play during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/ Stew Milne) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Winovich’s limited work in training camp did not threaten his job.

“We have tape on him. We kind of know the player. Excited about what Chase will do for us,” Stefanski said Wednesday.

As for what interested the Browns in Winovich, Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Personnel Glenn Cook pointed to Winovich’s 11 sacks in his first 32 games with the Patriots. After missing part of 2021 training camp following surgery, Winovich played 14 percent of the Patriots’ snaps on defense last season, 48 percent on special teams and went without a sack.

Acquired by Patriots:Chase Winovich on Browns trade: ‘Could be the best thing that ever happened to me’

“It was a combination of his work in college as well as in New England, but it’s just his ability to rush the passer,” Cook said Thursday. “You want to value it as high as you can, and when you have an opportunity to get a player who can get after the quarterback, you do.”

Winovich gained 10 to 15 pounds to play defensive end this season and showed off his increased strength while injured when he took over the skier machine on the Browns field. When it was over, his primal scream could be heard by those watching the training on the nearest field.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Chase Winovich plays with his goddaughter Arabel Armali 5 after mini-camp practices Thursday, June 16, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Chase Winovich plays with his goddaughter Arabel Armali 5 after mini-camp practices Thursday, June 16, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The training staff was joking, saying that the skier’s record was unbeatable, that no one had ever attempted it…” Winovich said. “I think I won it by 20, so I was pretty excited.

“You almost feel helpless. You sit there and have to watch other people compete for your spot. I really wanted to show how hard I was working this offseason, how focused I was. Having to surrender to the whims of the universe, it felt really great to be able to — even in that small way, the skier — set the record and have fun doing it.”

Asked if it was the same machine that Garrett once broke, Winovich said, “That would make sense. Miles is a very strong guy.”

Carolina Opener Juice:Greg Newsome II says Browns will use Baker Mayfield’s comment despite quarterback’s denial

Winovich loves spending time with Garrett and Clowney, especially when he talks to Garrett in the meeting room.

“Every time I asked him a question — and I ask a lot of questions, I consider myself a prospect collector — he was just spot on,” Winovich said of Garrett. “It’s really changed the way I’ve seen the game. I watched a lot of Jadeveon before I came here, just the way he played and the way he changed direction and made his moves. So I’m constantly learning.”

Winovich is always adding to his collection of prospects, even mentioning a man from Ukraine who works as a janitor for the Browns.

“He is working with me on Ukrainian words. I’m just building my vocabulary,” Winovich said, uttering a phrase in the language. “I think there is a lot to learn. I don’t have all the answers, and I think if you told yourself that you do, that shuts you out from other things. It’s part of what makes life fun.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.

This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: Chase Winovich hopes for long career with Cleveland Browns

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *