The Cleveland Browns made it to their bye week with a record of 2-2. Given the events of their last game before their off-week, the team and their fans could use some positive news. Enter Grant Delpit.
The best time to extend Delpit to a new contract was yesterday, the next best time to extend him is today. Delpit is in the final year of his rookie contract and is playing at an elite level. The fourth-year safety’s play has been unlocked since Jim Schwartz took over as the defensive coordinator in Cleveland.
Schwartz’ arrival has breathed new life into the Browns defense, but out of any player in the back seven, no one has taken a leap as large as Delpit has in the team’s first quarter of the season. There are several reasons for Delpit’s ascension under Schwartz.
It all starts with Delpit’s usage. The addition of Juan Thornhill and Rodney McLeod has led to Delpit seeing a significant downtick or reps as a single high safety. While Delpit has the prerequisite athleticism to play the single high safety position, that's not the alignment that plays best to his strengths.
Schwartz has weaponized Delpit by freeing him up to be the defense’s move piece in the secondary and utilizing his versatility. It's no secret that Delpit is at his most effective when he's in the box and can play forward. Schwartz recognized this right away and has leaned into it, allowing Delpit to play the majority of the time as an overhang linebacker.
Delpit’s physicality comes from a combination of his size, listed at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, and his aggressive nature. Through four games, he's tied with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah for the most total tackles (21), and solo tackles (16). Delpit also has the team’s lone interception, and he has forced and recovered a fumble this season.
Delpit has also gotten the opportunity to display his coverage skills as an occasional big nickel, giving Schwartz the ability to mix and match his secondary to exploit certain matchups. Opposing quarterbacks only have a 23.2 QB rating when targeting Delpit and are averaging a measly 3.1 yards per attempt when throwing in the versatile safety’s direction.
The bottom line is Delpit has emerged as a difference-maker and a math changer. Delpit is now the type of player that offensive coordinators must gameplan for and opposing quarterbacks must identify when they come to the line of scrimmage. You can never have too many difference-makers on your roster.
The sooner they lock Delpit up to an extension, the less it will cost the team in the long run. General manager Andrew Berry squirreled away money by restructuring several contracts heading into the regular season to roll over into next season and give the team the flexibility to make moves just like this.
The time is now. Andrew Berry needs to do the right thing and extend Grant Delpit today.