Cleveland Browns should be cautious about Nick Chubb contract talks

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 06: Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at Nissan Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 06: Nick Chubb #24 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at Nissan Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns need to be cautious when deciding whether or not to sign running back Nick Chubb to a long-term deal.

The former Georgia Bulldog is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract. The Browns have had it made over the last three seasons and have it made for the upcoming season as Chubb is a low cap hit. This is ideal for the Browns as Chubb has a cap hit of around two percent of the total cap.

At the end of the season, barring an extension in the coming months, Chubb will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. The Browns will ultimately have three options, but they should be wary of which option they decide to go with.

Before getting into those options, let’s not forget the fact that quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward are likely going to get extensions. They will both see their fifth-year options picked up within the next month, keeping them in Cleveland through next season before the extensions. Chubb is not eligible for that option as he was a second-round pick, whereas the other two were both taken within the first four picks.

This is a year-removed from Cleveland giving defensive end Myles Garrett a massive extension of his own.

There’s no doubt that Chubb has earned a massive payday over the course of his first three seasons. He has rushed for 3,557 yards and 28 touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards-per-carry. Last year he rushed for 1,067 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 YPC, despite missing four games with a knee injury. He is the focal point of the running game and really helps the passing game as his ability to break off big runs opens up the play-action.

He had 34 rushes of more than 10-yards last season, the fourth-most in the NFL. Pro Football Focus has also praised his pass blocking as he hasn’t allowed a sack on 102 snaps in pass protection. He has given opposing defenses fits as he has 124 missed tackles forced over the last two seasons, trailing only the NFL’s rushing leader in 2020, Titans running back Derrick Henry.

General manager Andrew Berry could decide to sign Chubb to an extension before the end of the season. This option can be split in two different ways. The first option is to give him a deal that would make him one of the top three-to-five highest-paid running backs in the NFL. This would strap the Browns for cash in the coming seasons. Just look at how the Cowboys and Saints salary cap situations are, let’s say not good, due to giving big-time money to Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara respectively.

The second option is to sign him to a deal similar to what the Green Bay Packers gave Aaron Jones. Jones got a four-year, $48 million deal, with $13 million fully guaranteed. This is a deal that pays Jones while also not derailing the Packers’ cap space moving forward. This is a deal that the Browns could use in negotiations with Chubb.

Last year Cleveland inked fellow running back Kareem Hunt to a two-year, $13.25 million extension. Could Chubb decide to go this route? It’s highly unlikely but possible. The running back duo is considered the top one-two punch in the NFL and Cleveland would love to keep them paired together for a while.

The second option the Browns can explore is using the franchise tag on Chubb. This will likely be a cap hit of around $12.5 million, according to projections from This would allow the two sides to negotiate a new deal and ultimately pay him the money he thinks he deserves.

The last option will not be a popular one amongst Browns fans, as it is just letting him walk and enter free agency. Chubb will get paid handsomely on the open market, but the Browns will have the rest of the season to decide whether or not to re-sign Chubb to a deal that makes sense for both of the involved parties.

If Chubb ultimately decided to test the free-agent waters and leave Cleveland, nobody can blame him for chasing the money. After all, this is his job and livelihood we are talking about. Some players are motivated by greener pastures, while others are motivated by winning. It seems as if winning is more important than money for Chubb, but that’s hard to say as he doesn’t say much himself.

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He is a silent assassin on the field and lets his play do the talking for him. That play has been spoken in money over the last three seasons. Nick Chubb is worth every penny, but the Browns must be cautious when deciding whether or not they will be the team paying him.