One of the first questions Chase Winovich fielded upon arriving at his new place of employment was about his hair -- mainly, because it was gone.
"So I cut my hair, and then two days later, I got traded," Winovich said during an interview with the team's in-house docuseries Building the Browns.
The edge rusher with the trademark golden locks will take on a new appearance in Cleveland, both in uniform and build. Winovich has gained between 10 to 15 pounds, telling reporters he's "the strongest I've probably ever been."
The weight gain wasn't just for fun. It's part of a role change for Winovich, who put on the weight to make the official shift to defensive end in coordinator Joe Woods' 4-3 scheme. It's also the beginning of what could be an ideal opportunity for Winovich to get back on track as a productive rotational player.
Winovich was already extremely positive about the big change in his life -- no, not the haircut -- seeing the Patriots' decision to trade him to the Browns as the precursor to a great chapter of his story.
"In life, we're very quick to assign things as good or bad, success or failure, this or that," Winovich told the Akron Beacon Journal. "But I think ultimately that removes any possibility, and the possibility is that it could be the best thing to ever happen to me."
Clowney's return, on paper, might diminish Winovich's opportunities to make a difference, right? Well, not entirely.
By the end of Winovich's most recent season in New England, he'd essentially fallen out of favor and was relegated to special teams. In the Patriots' final seven regular-season games, Winovich played a combined total of just 35 defensive snaps.
Cleveland should be a better situation for him on available snaps alone. Winovich will be counted on to play a rotational role in Cleveland, spelling Clowney and Myles Garrett when needed much like Takkarist McKinley was used in 2021 before he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
The Browns didn't ship Mack Wilson to New England in exchange for Winovich to fill a starting role, at least not on paper. A Clowney return was always a possibility, but as the Browns have demonstrated in the past two years, they value quality, experienced depth at edge rusher. McKinley saw a legitimate amount of playing time for such a role, too, playing between 35 and 57 percent of defensive snaps in all but one game in 2021.
Winovich's 11 sacks recorded between his first two professional seasons stand as proof that quality is in there, somewhere. Perhaps a change in scenery -- and a more manageable mop -- is all Winovich needs to rediscover such production.
"I'm just very thankful that the Cleveland Browns believe in me, and I certainly have been putting in the work and effort to make sure that I'm prepared come season," Winovich said. "I'm just really fired up to be here."