Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry found himself in unfamiliar territory a year ago when he worked out a contract extension with defensive end Myles Garrett.
It was a rare instance where the Browns actually wanted to sign one of their draft picks to a second contract, rather than being relieved a player’s contract was finally coming to an end.
That experience will be repeating itself fairly soon as Berry is now facing the prospect of dealing with extensions for a trio of players from the 2018 draft class in quarterback Baker Mayfield, cornerback Denzel Ward and running back Nick Chubb.
Mayfield’s extension is more a question of when (and how much), with Ward coming very close to being in that same category, given that he plays an important position at a high level.
An extension for Chubb is a bit more complicated, however, as there is a growing belief, backed up by some serious data, that teams should not give a big-money second contract to a running back.
Chubb could be the exception to that unwritten rule given that he is Nick Chubb. More importantly, thanks to the incompetence of then-head coach Hue Jackson in Chubb’s rookie year and having fellow running back Kareem Hunt on the roster, Chubb has not been over-used during his first three seasons, totaling 680 carries. By comparison, Derrick Henry has 681 carries just in the past two seasons for the Tennessee Titans.
The Browns opened mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, and when asked about potential contract extensions, Ward and Chubb both gave similar answers (quotes via team-provided transcripts).
“Perfect world, I would definitely want to be a Brown for my entire career. I am from Cleveland. The team that drafted me. The team that believed in me coming out of college and I take a lot of pride and respect into that. Just want to give my all to this team. It is definitely a place I would want to be. I enjoy being a Cleveland Brown and giving them everything I got.
“It is not a distraction to me. I am going to let my agent take care of that. I am focused on playing ball. I am here on the Cleveland Browns. I am just glad to be back in the building here in minicamp with all the guys ready to play. I am focused on playing football and not really worried about anything else.”
“It would mean a lot. Cleveland drafted me however many years ago it was, trusted me and put their faith in me to come here and help build this culture of this team I have been a part of it. I feel like, yeah, Cleveland is where I want to be and hope everything can work out in that direction.
“I am going to let my agent and the Browns handle that. I am just here to play, be here for my team, continue to get better and try to become a better teammate and a better team. That is all I am focusing on and will allow that to take care of itself.”
It is a pleasant fantasy to imagine the Browns can find a way to keep all of their good players as they continue to transition to being one of the NFL’s top franchises. Unfortunately, reality has a way of always entering the discussion.
Given what we have seen from Ward and Chubb since they joined the team, their upcoming contract discussions should not be a distraction. And the best thing they can do is keeping playing at a high level and make it as difficult as possible on Berry come contract time.
Last year’s extension with Garrett gave Berry a taste of what is to come. Now he has his work cut out for him as he looks at the potential second contracts for the draft class of 2018.