Nick Chubb has been the engine of the Cleveland Browns‘ offense since arriving in 2018 but the arrival of Deshaun Watson has generated some questions about his future with the franchise.
In a proposed “bold” move, Robert Weintraub of ESPN’s Football Outsiders predicted that the Browns would ship out Chubb this offseason to get maximum value for the four-time Pro Bowler.
“Chubb’s cap hit triples in 2023 to nearly $15 million, but at age 27 he remains a highly desirable asset, rare among running backs playing under a second contract. Cleveland has precious few tradable pieces, and thus should deal Chubb while he retains value and get a strong return, necessary with this year’s first- and third-round picks and 2024’s first and fourth going to the Texans for Watson,” Weintraub explained. “With such a supposedly potent O-line (though the unit was just 12th in run block win rate and 14th in adjusted line yards in 2022), lesser backs than Chubb should still be able to make hay while the Browns transition into a more robust passing team.
“Losing an All-Pro-caliber player such as Chubb wasn’t supposed to be part of the Watson deal but barring a major turnaround in the disgraced passer’s play, it may be the only way forward.”
Chubb Has Been Consistent Force for Browns
Chubb has been a consistent force for an inconsistent Browns offense. He’s coming off a year where he rushed for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns. It was his fourth consecutive season rushing for over 1,000 yards and his career 5.2 per carry average is among the league’s elite.
The Browns also don’t have much depth at the position, as they did in years past with Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson. Both are set to hit free agency and seem unlikely to return. If the Browns did decide to ship out Chubb, the Browns would be relying on the services of second-year back Jerome Ford, who had just eight rushing attempts last season.
If the Browns do believe their offensive line is good enough to plug and play another veteran back, they could look to the likes of Leonard Fournette, Latavius Murray or Jamaal Williams to fill the void as a budget free agent pickup.
Chubb Was Disappointed by Not Making the Postseason
The usually reserved Chubb wasn’t shy to express his frustration after the Browns were eliminated from the postseason, lamenting the team’s missed opportunities.
“It is disappointing for sure. We had our chances. We had our chances, but we didn’t make the most of it and here we are. We are who we are,” Chubb said.
He also fired off a much-discussed tweet around the Super Bowl, which read, “Tired of watching.”
But it’s hard to say Chubb didn’t do his part. While the Browns were caught up in the turmoil of Watson’s 11-game suspension, Chubb put together his best season yet. He joined Jim Brown as the only Browns player to rush for 1,500 yards in a season.
“It is bittersweet. Individually, it is something that I am proud of for sure. Had a lot of help with the O line and guys blocking for me,” Chubb said on rushing for 1,500 yards. “At the end of the day, I am about winning. It didn’t happen yesterday and didn’t happen a lot season. It is stuff to be proud of for sure from this season. There are things we need to work on, but overall, it is bittersweet right now.”
While changes are afoot for the Browns’ offense, it would be a very foolish move to get rid of Chubb for anything that’s not a landscape-shifting trade.