4 contracts holding Cleveland Browns back right now

Deshaun Watson's contract continues to be a burden for the Cleveland Browns but there are other concerns as well

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Logan Riely/GettyImages
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2. Nick Chubb, RB

Cleveland's running game started out hot in 2023 but that lasted for only a couple of weeks. With Nick Chubb going down with a knee injury in Week 2, things fell apart. They were able to rack up yards early in the season but the efficiency was a mess. And as the year went along, the numbers dipped dramatically.

Joe Flacco wound up giving their offense some credibility but he continually had to do everything himself. That led to some changes as the Browns moved on from running backs coach Stump Mitchell — as well as offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and tight ends coach T.C. McCartney. With them out, the offense is looking to change course, likely to better fit Deshaun Watson.

That doesn't mean they're not going to want Nick Chubb back but there's a belief they will want him to take a cut in salary. Chubb should continue to be a focal point of the offense once healthy but considering the severity of his knee injury, plus the fact that this is the second major knee injury he's had, the Browns would be smart to consider making plans as if he wasn't there.

Of course, that's hard to do when a player is making $15.8 million, as Chubb is. While it's true Chubb is an insane talent, hardly any team that has extended a running back has been happy with the move. The Cowboys couldn't wait to get Ezekiel Elliott off their books, the Titans were rumored to be shopping Derrick Henry constantly, the Vikings cut Dalvin Cook during his deal, and there's the whole Le'Veon Bell deal in New York as well which was as effective as clap on lights in a football stadium would be.

Throw in the fact that Saquon Barkley and Tony Pollard stunk it up on their one-year deals that eclipsed $10 million and it's going to be hard for running backs to get top dollar. It will also be hard for the Browns to feel good about paying Chubb $15.8 million — no matter how likable he is. That money will also make it difficult to help put players on the roster to help fill the void should he be unable to go in Week 1, or if gets hurt again.