The Cleveland Browns may have well found their future early in the 2018 NFL Draft, assembling the building blocks of a winning team. And I don’t even have to be talking about quarterback Baker Mayfield, here. At least for the time being, it would seem equally appropriate to describe Nick Chubb, who was drafted with the first pick in the second round.
Chubb has made a strong case as the best running back in the game over his three seasons, with only Derrick Henry throwing a wrench into his argument. He has 3,557 yards on 680 career carries, averaging an immense 5.2 yards per carry over that stretch. He also had 28 rushing touchdowns. And he’s due for an extension.
“Please pay that man”, his teammate and fellow running back Kareem Hunt recently said at a youth football camp, according to Zac Jackson for The Athletic. “Nick is a freak of nature. He’s like a brother to me. I love what he does on and off the field. He’s just a great person and great teammate. I hope we can play together for a long time”.
There was a time, of course, where Hunt may have once found himself in the same position. In his first 27 games, before he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs following the release of a video showing him kicking a woman, he has already rushed for 2,151 yards and gained another 833 receiving, averaging 4.7 and 10.5, respectively, with 25 total touchdowns—not far from one per game.
He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, leading the league in rushing, in 2017. He would have inevitably been a Pro Bowler in 2018 as well had his off-field behavior not caught up with his professional career. But the Browns gave Hunt a second chance the following offseason. Hunt rewarded them with solid play, including 11 touchdowns last season.
Cleveland already signed an extension with the Browns last offseason through the 2022 season, averaging $6 million per year. Chubb would command considerably more than that as one of the best running backs in the NFL who hasn’t kicked anybody in a hotel hallway.
According to Over the Cap, there are currently seven running backs making an average of $10,000,000 per season or more, including three—Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara—who are averaging at least $15,000,000.
The Browns would obviously have to pay up an eight-figure salary at the bare minimum this offseason in order to keep him from hitting free agency next year, or they’ll have to give him a franchise tag. When it comes down to it, it will be interesting to see how much he ultimately gets.