The Cleveland Browns landed a franchise-altering talent by taking Nick Chubb in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A dominant running back at the University of Georgia, the powerful ball-carrier has quickly developed into one of the top players at his position at the pro level. And by using his unique blend of power and speed to consistently run through and by defenders during his first three years in the league, Chubb put himself in a position to score a life-changing raise.
However, even though he recently received long-term financial security from the Browns, the talented tailback should already regret his $36.6 million decision.
Nick Chubb will keep carrying the load in Cleveland for the rest of his prime
You won’t find many running backs with a more complete skill set than Nick Chubb. Tipping the scales at 5-foot-11, 227 pounds, he possesses a strong, muscular frame that allows him to bounce off would-be tacklers with relative ease. Plus, besides having the power to run through contact, the former SEC star also has the straight-line speed to outrun corners and safeties in the open field. To top it all off, Chubb has the receiving chops to make an impact in the passing game, too.
Browns fans have watched the talented tailback dominate NFL defenses for three years, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the team’s most respected players. A bonafide star with an excellent work ethic and humble attitude, Chubb has done everything the right way since he joined the organization as the 35th overall pick of the 2018 draft.
By establishing a reputation as a dominant all-around back and franchise cornerstone, the two-time Pro Bowler positioned himself for a big-time pay raise. On Saturday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported via Twitter that the Browns agreed to terms with Chubb on a three-year, $36.6 million contract extension. While the deal ensures that Cleveland will continue to employ one of the NFL’s best backs for several more seasons, when you take a step back, it’s clear that Chubb made a highly questionable decision to extend his stay for that price.
The All-Pro running back should already regret his $36.6 million decision
Based on what he’s done through his first three years in the league, there’s no doubt that Chubb is a top-five player at his position. In fact, an argument can be made that he’s the best all-around running back in pro football. After all, he excels at gaining yards after contact, he can make plays in the passing game, and he has a nose for the end zone.
Somehow, though, Chubb didn’t score a top-of-the-market deal.
In fact, when you compare his contract to some of the extensions signed by other big-name backs, it’s obvious he didn’t maximize his value. With an average annual salary of $12.2 million, Chubb ranks fifth in the hierarchy of the NFL’s highest-paid running backs. Derrick Henry checks in at No. 4 with an average salary of $12.5 million, and Dalvin Cook ranks just ahead of him at $12.6 million.
Both Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara make $15 million per year. Meanwhile, Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey tops all running backs at $16 million per year.
Chubb certainly scored a substantial raise, but it’s entirely fair to criticize him for settling for an under-market deal. Based on his skill set and track record of production, he easily could have asked for $14-plus million per season without blinking an eye. However, he will play out the rest of his prime years on a deal that looks quite team-friendly. Plus, if the market gets reset at some point, Chubb’s extension could look even worse.
So, even if he took a little less to help the Browns out, there’s no doubt he sold himself short at the negotiating table. Given the fact he sustained a significant knee injury in college and he plays a position that does not promote career longevity, Chubb should regret not getting more money on his second contract.
Chubb’s deal represents the tip of the iceberg for a Browns team that has several other stars in line for contract extensions
The Browns should feel great about signing arguably the league’s best back at a discount price. Then again, perhaps Chubb left some money on the table to help Cleveland have extra wriggle room to get deals done with some of his teammates.
After all, several other key players on the roster need new deals, too.
2018 first-round picks Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward will become a free agent after the 2022 season. Both seem like long-term fixtures in Cleveland, so it will be interesting to see how much the Browns are willing to pay to keep them around for years to come. Obviously, though, the price to extend Mayfield’s stay should be much more expensive than the $36.6 million investment it took to lock Chubb up.
In addition, starting right guard Wyatt Teller also looks like a strong candidate to receive a long-term deal. After entering the league as a fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2018, he earned second-team All-Pro honors last season. Considering how big of a role he plays in opening up holes for Chubb and Kareem Hunt, it seems like a smart decision to give Teller a multi-year extension.
Of course, that all depends on how much money the Browns have to work with once they figure out what they want to do with Mayfield and Ward.
Luckily for Cleveland, at least Nick Chubb didn’t demand a record-setting payday.