Browns Lock up Top-Tier Free Agent Offensive Lineman

Getty New Browns offensive tackle Jack Conklin.

The Cleveland Browns are beefing up their offensive line, adding free agent right tackle Jack Conklin on a lucrative deal to protect quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Conkin agreed to a three-year contract with the Browns worth $42 million, with $30 million of that fully guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Conklin kept the deal relatively short because of the projected increase in salary cap coming down the line. He will be just 28 years old when he’s due for a new deal.

Conklin was drafted No. 8 overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2016 out of Michigan State. He started 38 of his 39 career games — 35 at left tackle, three at right tackle — with the Spartans.

Conklin was a first-team All-Pro selection his rookie year and has started every game of his NFL career that he’s been healthy for. He played just nine games in 2018 due to injury, but hasn’t missed a game in his other three seasons.

“He’s back now,” an AFC executive told Fowler on “Had a really strong contract year.”

PFF’s revealed that among the 62 tackles with at least 800 pass-blocking snaps played since 2016, Conklin ranks 24th in pressure percentage allowed at 5.7. He’s also a top 20 run blocker.

It was the second big splash the Browns made on Monday, also adding tight end Austin Hooper, making him the highest paid tight end in football.

According to Scott Pioli of CBS Sports, the deal for Hooper is for four years and $42 million. That would put Hooper just over the $10.6 million annually that Chargers tight end Hunter Henry brings in. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that $23 million is guaranteed for Hooper over the first two years.

Browns Likely Not Done Adding to Offensive Line

The Browns offensive line ranked in the bottom half of the league in terms of pass-protection last season and Mayfield was sacked 40 times — the seventh most in the NFL. While that is less than ideal to begin with, the number doesn’t tell the story of the consistent pressure Mayfield faced, often having to make throws on the run.

The Browns line includes JC Tretter and Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio. Tretter signed a long-term deal last season and Bitonio is signed through the 2022 season. There’s also a good chance that the Browns will add an offensive line with the No. 10 pick in the draft. Cleveland will not bring back tackle Greg Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick who was arrested with 157 pounds of marijuana on him at the US-Mexico border.

The Browns have the No. 10 overall pick in the draft and could also pursue a trade for Trent Williams of the Redskins or pick up a veteran free agent like Jason Peters.

Browns Are Loaded on Offense, But Have to Protect Baker Mayfield

GettyBrowns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

If the Browns can protect Baker Mayfield, the team has potential to possess one of the explosive units in the league with names like Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and now Hooper in the mix.

New Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said the amount of talent on the roster in Cleveland was a big reason for him taking the job.

“Obviously, having the opportunity to put an offense together with the group of guys was very intriguing. Another reason would be the talent that has been acquired here over the years,” Van Pelt said in his introductory press conference this week. “Obviously, the group is extremely talented, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Having the chance to work with those guys was another part of that.”

READ NEXT: David Njoku Reacts to Browns Signing Austin Hooper

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