The Cleveland Browns signed left guard Joel Bitonio to a contract extension on Wednesday.
The three-year extension is worth $48 million and potentially keeps Bitonio in Cleveland through the 2025 season. It also comes just a day after general manager Andrew Berry signed right guard Wyatt Teller to a four-year, $56.8 million extension.
The move to keep the NFL’s best offensive line intact for several seasons was a priority, Berry told clevelandbrowns.com:
“After last season, we decided that one of our major football priorities would be to make Joel Bitonio a Brown for the rest of his career. Joel is one of our most decorated players and is the ideal personification of our ‘Tough, Smart, Accountable’ mantra. We value Joel’s high-level performance, leadership, consistency and durability.
“We are all excited about this extension and hopeful that at the end of his career we will all be looking forward to celebrating Joel’s gold jacket fitting in Canton.”
It is somewhat appropriate that Berry mentioned the Hall of Fame as last season Bitonio became the first Cleveland guard to earn three consecutive Pro Bowl selections since Hall of Famer Gene Hickerson made six in a row starting in 1966.
A second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bitonio is the longest-tenured player on the roster and has made 104 starts in the regular season. He is also the league’s third-best guard this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and ranks third in pass block win rate (97%) among all offensive linemen, and 19th among all guards in run block win rate (71.8%), according to ESPN.
Bitonio hopes to follow the lead of former left tackle Joe Thomas, a teammate for four years, and play his entire career with the Browns, he told clevelandbrowns.com:
“I’ve been here for eight years now and seen a lot of ups and downs. To be part of that and for the team to have faith in me and allow me to be here for my entire career, it really means a lot. It’s special. You see guys switch teams a lot and go from team to team, great players in this league. I saw Joe Thomas end his career here. It’s something when you get into Year 8 and Year 9, it gets in the back of your mind where it’d be really special to be in Cleveland your whole career and try to win a championship with these guys.”
During Bitonio’s tenure with the Browns the team ranks fifth in the league with an average of 4.52 yards per carry. He has helped the run game take off the past two seasons, as Cleveland currently is tops in the NFL in rushing yards (1,442), rushing average (5.28), rushing touchdowns (16) and runs of 10-plus yards (46), according to clevelandbrowns.com.