Ahead of the 2021 season, the Cleveland Browns and star running back Nick Chubb agreed to a three-year extension worth $36 million. That extension kept him locked in with the franchise until the end of the 2024 season. Now heading into that campaign, Chubb is coming off a serious knee injury.
It's also not the first time he's had to battle back from a devastating knee injury either as he suffered a terrible injury back in 2015 while playing for the Georgia Bulldogs. He returned and was as impressive as ever, which is why Cleveland fans have high hopes that he will return at some point in 2024 and lead the offense once again.
While that hope is high, Bill Barnwell of ESPN believes they might need to ask Chubb to take a pay cut as he enters the final year of his deal. He also adds that they might need to move on from Jack Conklin, a former All-Pro offensive tackle to keep from being handcuffed by the salary cap.
"They’ll likely cut Conklin and ask running back Chubb to take a pay cut this offseason, but this might be the best version of the Browns we see for the next few years if they don’t make any changes." - Barnwell, ESPN
As pointed out by Max Dible of Heavy, there's a precedent for running backs who have been in the league for a while to make concessions to stay with their teams.
"Chubb’s counterpart Joe Mixon of the Bengals took a $3 million pay cut to remain in Cincinnati last offseason, while Aaron Jones sacrificed $5 million to remain with the Green Bay Packers." - Dibble, Heavy
Browns will need to move money around to keep team winning
None of us knows for sure what Cleveland's plans will be and in all honesty, they might not know yet. Having said that, they're going to have to get creative with their cap space in order to not only keep their star players under contract but to fill holes as well.
Moving on from Conklin (who is also coming off a serious injury) feels like a potential move, especially with the way Dawand Jones performed in his absence. With Chubb, however, it's hard to see exactly what approach they will take. It's unlikely they'll extend him coming off an injury, which could help save money in the short term. But they're also not the type of organization to play hardball with someone such as Chubb.