NFL

The Cleveland Browns Just Lost Their Biggest Star to COVID-19

Four months ago, Myles Garrett became one of the highest-paid players in football. So far, he has earned every penny of his lucrative contract extension with the Cleveland Browns.

However, the superstar pass rusher will not be in the lineup on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Once again, COVID-19 will force another NFL player to miss time.

Will the Browns earn their seventh win of the year without their biggest star? Or will Garrett’s absence result in a breakout performance from an Eagles offense in desperate need of a good day at the office?

Myles Garrett is living up to his $125 million contract extension

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After going No. 1 overall in the 2017 NFL draft, Myles Garrett faced plenty of pressure to live up to expectations in Cleveland. So far, he has more than delivered.

In his rookie season, the 6-foot-4, 272-pound defensive end racked up seven sacks and 18 quarterback hits in just 11 games.

In year two, Garrett earned his first Pro Bowl berth after totaling 13.5 sacks and 29 QBH. The long-limbed, athletic pass rusher also earned second-team All-Pro honors for his breakout campaign.

Last season, the former Texas A&M star appeared to be well on his way to earning his second straight Pro Bowl selection. However, Garrett got suspended indefinitely by the NFL after he struck Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet.

The incident obviously represented a black mark on Garrett’s resume. However, it didn’t deter the Browns from breaking the bank this offseason.

In July, Cleveland signed Garrett to a five-year, $125 million contract extension. Through nine games, he leads the league with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. On a team full of blue-chip players, the fourth-year defensive end is clearly the Browns’ biggest star.

The Browns just lost their biggest star to COVID-19

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Myles Garrett could very well win NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors this season. But he won’t get a chance to add to his league-leading sack total on Sunday.

On Friday, the Browns announced that they will place their biggest star on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Garrett will not play on Sunday against the Eagles.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert provided some more details about the situation.

“The Myles Garrett situation in Cleveland is instructive. Had general illness symptoms earlier this week. Negative for COVID-19,” Seifert reported via Twitter. “Sent home and isolated, per NFL protocol. Returned positive test today. Early isolation minimized chance of spread or high-risk close contacts.”

For the Browns, losing Garrett represents a massive blow to their defense. After all, Sheldon Richardson is the only other player on the team with more than two sacks. And while Cleveland’s upcoming opponent has struggled on offense so far, Sunday could be the perfect opportunity to get back on track.

Can Cleveland survive on Sunday without Garrett?

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With Myles Garrett sidelined by COVID-19, the Browns will be without their biggest star against an Eagles team in search of their fourth win of the season. While Philadelphia only ranks 24th in scoring, Carson Wentz and Co. have a chance to take a step forward against a Cleveland defense that looks far less intimidating without No. 95 on the field.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Eagles take advantage of a unit that ranks 20th in points allowed.

Philly has finally started to get healthy on offense recently. Alshon Jeffery made his first appearance of the season in last week’s loss to the New York Giants. Dallas Goedert will play his third game since returning from an ankle injury. Fellow tight end Zach Ertz recently got designated to return from injured reserve, but it is unclear whether he will play on Sunday.

Still, the Eagles appear to be in much better shape offensively than they have been all season. If Philadelphia’s re-shuffled offensive line can provide Wentz with time to throw, the team may just steal a victory on the road and maintain its first-place standing in the NFC East.

And if Garrett remains out of the lineup beyond this week, that could spell trouble for a Cleveland team searching for its first playoff berth since 2002.

Let’s see if the Browns can survive on Sunday, or whether the absence of their biggest star will cause them to drop to 6-4.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.