The Cleveland Browns helped build an offensive core with two picks near the top of the 2018 NFL Draft. It started with the quarterback in Baker Mayfield. They also used an early second-round pick to find their runner of the future in Nick Chubb.
But now it’s time to pay up. Chubb, as a non-first-round pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and it is ordinarily at this point that players of his caliber would receive a contract extension. While the team has expressed a desire to get things done, until pen touches paper inking a signature onto a contract, it’s an open discussion.
“It would mean a lot”, the running back told reporters yesterday at minicamp. “Cleveland drafted me however many years ago it was, trusted me and put their faith in me to come here and help build this culture of this team I have been a part of it. I feel like, yeah, Cleveland is where I want to be and hope everything can work out in that direction”.
Since being drafted, Chubb has unquestionably been one of the best ball-carriers in the NFL, and that even predates the team’s investment in the offensive line from last season. Serving often as a backup in his rookie season, he came up just four yards shy of a 100-yard season in 2018, but averaged 5.2 yards per carry with eight scores.
In fact, if we grant him those four yards, then he has hit the 1000-yard, 5.0 YPC, eight-score plateaus in each of his three seasons. In 2019, he rushed for 1494 yards at a comfortable 5.0 yards per. Last season, despite missing four games, he still recorded 1067 yards, with 12 rushing touchdowns, at a career-high 5.6 yards per carry. He is, simply put, one of the best pure runners in the game.
And he wants to say in Cleveland. But he’s not focusing on his contract. That’s what he pays people for. “I am going to let my agent and the Browns handle that”, he said. “I am just here to play, be here for my team, continue to get better and try become a better teammate and a better team. That is all I am focusing on and will allow that to take care of itself”.
The Browns set a precedent last year when they gave Myles Garrett a long-term contract extension last offseason. A first-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft class, he was technically under contract for the next two years with the fifth-year option.
Now Mayfield is at the same point in his rookie contract, so it would be striking if they don’t treat their franchise quarterback the same as they do their franchise pass rusher. And will their ‘franchise’ runner get some sort of respect? Unlike the former first-round picks, he’s heading into unrestricted free agency after this season.