Why the Cleveland Browns were smart to pick up Jedrick Wills fifth-year option

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns
New York Jets v Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

The Cleveland Browns picked up the fifth-year option for starting left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. on Monday and it was a smart move.

This was likely always going to be the outcome, but Andrew Berry took the decision a day away from the May 2 deadline. Some fans were not too happy with this announcement, but the organization was more than thrilled to get Wills' option taken care of.

Berry said a week ahead of the NFL Draft that the team is "pleased with Jed." This was a hint that the Browns knew what the eventual outcome would be and that is Wills being the starting left tackle for 2023 and 2024.

The option is worth $14.175 million and is fully guaranteed. Compared to some of the lucrative contracts offensive tackles have received this offseason, this deal looks like a steal for Cleveland.

Now, does Wills have some improvements to his game to make? Absolutely. He isn't one of the elite protectors of the blindside, but he is far from the worst. He's likely somewhere near the middle of the pack, but that isn't a bad thing. The Browns know that they have a starting-caliber left tackle.

In his first three professional seasons, Wills has played in 45 of a possible 50 games, playing in 98, 90, and 98 percent of snaps. He had a rough rookie campaign when it comes to penalties as he was flagged 11 times. He cut that number down to four in 2021 before doubling that to eight last season.

Some fans have given up hope on Wills due in large part to some clips they have seen on Twitter, where it appears he is "giving up" on plays. However, that's far from the case. Believe it or not, there are times when the play is happening on the other side of the field, so it's not uncommon to see offensive linemen not sprinting over to the ball.

Back in February, I wrote that Wills was the best option at left tackle for the 2023 season and clearly Berry and the Browns organization agreed. Think of it this way, who would replace him? That isn't an easy question so it's better to keep Wills under contract and hope he continues to make the ascension upward.

Also, consider this as well; Bill Callahan is considered the best offensive line coach in the league, so if you are one to buy into this notion, but aren't sold on Wills as the future left tackle of this team, don't you think Callahan can coach him to be an elite NFL tackle?

Give it time.

In the chance that Wills does not progress over the next two seasons, Berry added some o-line depth in the draft by drafting tackle Dawand Jones - who could vie for a starting swing tackle position as early as this year - and center Luke Wypler, both out of Ohio State.

At the end of the day, this fifth-year option pickup of Wills was the smart move by Berry and the Browns. If it doesn't work out over the next two years, the team can reassess their options and move on if need be.

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