Cleveland Browns: Players next in line for contract extension
By Dan Justik
The Cleveland Browns recently signed Duke Johnson to a three-year contract extension, but who is the most likely next in line to get a new contract?
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has been busy signing players to contract extensions. He signed Jarvis Landry to a five-year, $75.5 million contract extension in April. And most recently, he signed running back Duke Johnson to a three-year, $15.6 million extension.
One of the biggest complaints of the Sashi Brown regime was the inability to re-sign the proven talent the Browns had on their roster. Losing free agents like Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Tashaun Gipson, and Taylor Gabriel set the franchise back.
Dorsey is showing that he does not want to lose solid players. But which players are now the most likely to get an extension before the end of the season? Two names stick out, Josh Gordon and E.J. Gaines.
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Gordon is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. His best season was in 2013 when he caught 87 receptions with 1,646 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in only 14 games.
But his on field performance is not the concern when the idea of signing him to an extension comes up. It is his reliability. Signing a player that has missed two full seasons and played in only ten games the last four seasons because of suspensions to an extension is very worrisome.
Dorsey may want Gordon to prove to him that he is on the straight and narrow before giving out a contract extension. But if the Browns do decide to sign Gordon long term, Gordon will be getting paid top-five wide receiver money.
The other player that will have to play his way into a contract will be Gaines. Gaines is a young cornerback that played very well with the Buffalo Bills last season. Gaines had 59 tackles, three forced fumbles, one interception, and nine passes defended in his only season in Buffalo.
The 26-year-old cornerback was hoping to turn that into a large contract this offseason. But he was met with a lack of interest on the open market. He landed with the Browns on a one-year, $4 million contract.
The two biggest concerns with Gaines are his injury history and only having one year of solid production. Gaines only played in 11 games last season, and missed the entire 2015 season because of injury. He needs to prove to Dorsey that he can stay healthy and stay on the field in order to get a large contract extension.
Gaines will likely be a starter for the Browns, and at the least one of the top three cornerbacks on the depth chart. He will have a chance to re-create his 2017 production with the Browns. He also played for Gregg Williams for three seasons, so he will not feel uncomfortable in this defense.
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With nearly a year until these players hit free agency, there is not a major concern if these players do not sign extensions immediately. But Gordon and Gaines are most likely the next players to get extensions before the end of the season.