Heading into the 2024 season, Nick Chubb has a cap hit of $15.8 million. There's no denying he's worth that to the Cleveland Browns — when he's healthy. The concern is that he's coming off a serious knee injury that required two separate surgeries.
Chubb suffered a torn ACL and MCL back in Week 2 and since they had to both be repaired, there's a belief he might not be ready to go in Week 1 of the upcoming campaign. That had some NFL experts thinking he could be asked to take a pay cut. However, that's not what Aaron Schatz predicts.
The ESPN Insider said he sees a scenario where the Browns instead sign the star running back to an extension. He admits this seems to be counter to their analytic strategy but also offers up the opinion that Chubb is one of a few running backs who are valuable according to analytics.
“Despite questions about his return from a knee injury, the Browns will sign Chubb to an extension which will allow them to keep him past the 2024 season, while also lowering his cap charge to help the Browns get under the number,” Schatz predicted in an ESPN Insider article. “A big running back contract may surprise some coming from the analytically forward Browns, but advanced analytics generally portray Chubb as one of the few running backs who truly makes a difference. (For example, he always excels at the NFL Next Gen Stats rushing yards over expectation metric, where he leads the NFL since 2021 with 597.)”
Extending Nick Chubb is risky, but could be the Browns best move
Making this move does have some solid logic behind it. Currently, the Browns are nearly $20 million over the salary cap and it will take a few moves to get under that number. From there, they need to free up as much space as they can to make moves in free agency as well as sign their draft picks.
Perhaps by adding a few years to Chubb's deal, they could wind up saving $7-8 million. Having said that, there's clearly a risk being taken since this is the second time Chubb has suffered a serious injury to the same knee. His last injury was in 2015 while he was still in college and he bounced back nicely — making him someone worth betting on. He was also nine years younger, so that too comes into play.
In the end, this could be the move they make since Andrew Berry has already said he wants to see Chubb continue to carry the rock for the Browns. The important part of this equation is allowing him to get healthy and not rush back. The contract is secondary but this front office has shown they know how to get things done.
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