Saw today where the media was reporting that K.J. Wright (LB, Seattle?) thinks that the Browns should trade Nick Chubb as his skills are incompatible with using Watson at his best use. Briefly he postulated that having Chubb carry the ball 25 to 30 times per game takes the ball out of Watson’s hands too often. Obviously he is uninformed.
For his career Chubb is averaging 16.1 carries per game, with 5.2 yards per carry. In 2019 the season of his heaviest use he averaged 18.6 carries per game, with 5 yards per carry. In 2022 he averaged 17.8 carries per game, with 5 yards per carry. I doubt that his 16 carries a game with 60 to 70 offensive plays will obviate the talents of Watson.
While Browns fans have been clamoring for more Chubb carries per game the Browns have carefully managed his workload such that after five seasons he appears to be capable of another three to five stellar seasons. While this will have been the last season with Hunt to take 10-12 carries/touches from Chubb’s plate I think that the plan is to have Ford step into that role. They might even add a new third RB in the draft to take on Johnson’s b/u to the b/u role. In addition I expect that Watson’s presence will change the Browns’ run to pass ratio to be less than 50/50 with more passing attempts. That can be accomplished without any disruption to Chubb’s impact. Just as the opposing offense must always account for Garrett, opposing defenses cannot afford to forget Chubb’s abilities. We might even see Chubb used more as a receiver? Chubb at the second level with the ball is the greatest joy I have as a fan.
Finally trading the most popular Brown would achieve a Modell score. AB would have to leave town in disguise. Probably the Haslams as well.
In my opinion Chubb’s continued health, impact and managed use makes his contract a potential cap saving opportunity. Not by trade but, with an extension of two years through his age 31 season.
Further thoughts about the Browns in 2023
Although 2022 was very disappointing as the team threw away 3 to 4 wins the roster remains impressive. We currently have 3 players who should be favored for eventual selection to the Hall of Fame (Garrett, Bitonio & Chubb). In addition it doesn’t take much imagination that Cooper with some more seasons of consistent production will warrant consideration. Ward and Njoku, if they can step up to their talent and maintain it for five plus years could (albeit unlikely) could also knock on the door. Watson might never be able to put his personal disgrace behind him enough to achieve consideration but, his talent could make him a qualified but excluded HOF candidate (ex. Barry Bonds). The teams of the late 60’s and late 80’s were the only other ones with that many outstanding talents. The roster is also loaded with solid or developing players like Newsome, Conklin, Teller, Wills, Emerson, Delpit and DPJ.
While we again do not have a first round draft choice I have confidence that AB will find contributors in the draft. I would propose that of his day 2 & 3 choices only Schwartz, Felton, Togiai and Lacount can be counted as failures. The remaining players have already done regular contributions or have shown flashes that indicate that they will be contributors while on their rookie contracts. In my mind a 2nd round choice needs to be able to contribute as a rookie, start by the second year and be competitive for a second contract after four years. The expectations should scale down from that for 3rd, 4th and 5th round choices. A 6th or 7th round choice for other than an expansion or bottom team is a success if they can stick around for a few years.
Lots of talk about free agency among the fans always seems to ignore the reality that we don’t have any cap room. Assuming that AB and Depo do the NFL smoke and mirrors work to create some room I think that we can sign a couple of affordable second chance free agents. My hope is that we address DT, LB & S to free up AB to draft without pressing need. This draft has a large number of potential DEs. I think that we’d be better seeing if Bell, Woods, Baldwin and/or a draft choice can be third WR rather than sign another Britt/Bowe.
AB likes to pick up what in baseball were called "post hype" players. That is players that were highly regarded when young, didn’t really pan out but, remain viable by age and talent. Sometimes they just need some experience and a different situation to tap into their talent. Players I think will fit that profile for the Browns:
DT: Jerry Tillery & Solomon Thomas
S: Terrell Edmunds
LB: Devin Bush & Kyle Vander Esch
I’m also thinking that Larry Ogunjobi (DT), Tavan Bryan (DT), Jabrill Peppers (S), Ronnie Harrison (S) & Anthony Walker (LB) would be of interest to AB as returning Browns.
I particularly like Edmunds and Bush as both are still very young, were highly rated, are very athletic would be moving from a 3-4 base to the Schwartz defense. In addition it would be wonderful to take Steeler rejects and see them be successful as Browns.
You will note that I’m looking at strong safety types when most project that Schwartz will want a free safety. I think that the pool of young, affordable free safety FAs is empty. Coming out of college the assessment of Delpit was that he was a good free safety who couldn’t tackle. Now we see him as an in the box safety? He will be the free safety.