Nick Chubb was drafted to be the Cleveland Browns‘ No. 1 running back for years to come. After a solid first two seasons in the NFL, it was looking that way, too.
Well, until Tuesday afternoon.
A few days before the start of the 2020 season, the Browns signed backup RB Kareem Hunt to a two-year contract extension worth over $13 million. Meanwhile, Chubb is sitting in Cleveland shaking his head, as he’s set to make just over $1.5 million this season.
Kareem Hunt played as well as Nick Chubb down the stretch of the 2019 season
On the surface, Chubb had a much better 2019 season than Hunt. After all, he was the everyday starter, and he got nearly four times the amount of touches Hunt received last year.
But Hunt was almost as efficient from week 10 on in 2019. From weeks 10-17, Chubb averaged 4.63 yards per carry for the Browns. Hunt averaged 4.16.
Hunt was also the more prolific pass catcher in Cleveland down the stretch last season. He caught 37 passes for 285 yards last season, which added a dimension to the Browns’ offense that Chubb couldn’t provide. Chubb caught just nine passes for 112 yards in the same span.
Cleveland might value Hunt’s versatility as a running back more than Chubb’s, which spurred a curious contract decision just days before the 2020 season is set to kick off.
The Browns signed Kareem Hunt to a contract extension Tuesday
Chubb might be the first running back on the depth chart in Cleveland, but he won’t be the highest-paid ball carrier for the Browns in 2020.
Hunt, who operates as the backup to Chubb, signed a two-year, $13.25 million contract extension Tuesday that will keep him in Cleveland until 2023.
It’s a head-scratching move for the Browns, who already owe seven players more than $10 million next season. They’re also due to give Baker Mayfield a massive contract extension after the 2021 season, which leaves little room for a fair Chubb contract.
The Browns sent Nick Chubb a $13 million message with Hunt’s new contract
You have to wonder where the Browns’ priorities lie after giving their backup running back close to $7 million a year. Hunt is undoubtedly one of the most talented runners in the NFL, but he is second on the depth chart behind Chubb.
When 2021 rolls around, Hunt will make $6.6 million. Meanwhile, Chubb is only due $1.5 million. That’s the 17th-highest figure on the roster next season.
Hunt is only one year older than Chubb, and it’s possible the Browns see him as the feature running back moving forward. Chubb has been nothing short of terrific for the Browns for two seasons, but he may be getting phased out for a cheaper, more versatile weapon.
For now, Chubb is still the No. 1 RB in Cleveland. But that $13 million message sure says something about the Browns’ priorities in the backfield.