Browns Predicted to Part Ways $37 Million Pro Bowler in Coming Weeks

Andrew Berry

Getty General manager Andrew Berry of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns have to make a handful of difficult decisions over the next few months, though the call on running back Nick Chubb stands above the rest.

Chubb has been the undisputed star of the Browns offense during his six-year run with the franchise, save for last season when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The problem, however, is the final year of Chubb’s contract.

Backup RB Jerome Ford showed out during his sophomore campaign and is a vastly cheaper option than Chubb in 2024 and for at least one year beyond. That fits roughly with the Browns’ timeline on quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will carry a $64 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons that will complicate every financial decision the team has to make.

Because of those realities, Ari Meirov of 33rd Team predicted Chubb as a salary cap casualty for the Browns in the coming weeks.

“Don’t be shocked if Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon are cut as we head into free agency,” Meirov posted to X on Saturday, February 24.

Chubb, a four-time Pro Bowler, is entering the final season of a three-year contract worth $36.6 million overall. His salary cap hit in 2024 is $15.825 million, and the Browns can save $11.825 million by cutting or trading him this offseason.

Nick Chubb, Browns Will Meet to Discuss Potential Contract Restructure

Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2.

GettyCleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb.

Cleveland wants to keep Chubb, of course, and will try to do so by restructuring his contract. The potential issue is the franchise will want to do so on its terms, which the running back may not find agreeable.

“The Browns will meet with Chubb’s agents, possibly as soon as the NFL combine in Indianapolis next week, and discuss parameters for a restructuring — and possible extension — that will enable Chubb to make most or all of the money he’s due this season via incentives and bonuses,” Mary Kay Cabot of reported on February 22.

The NFL has widely devalued the running back position in recent years, and players like Mixon and Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers have taken salary decreases to remain with their teams. Chubb rushed for 6,341 yards and 48 touchdowns across his first five seasons with the Browns and was arguably the league’s best running back over that span.

All that is to say Chubb may not be interested in an incentive-heavy deal after the worst injury of his career considering all he has already given/proven during his time in Cleveland. An extension that lowers his cap hit in 2024 and offers him considerably more guaranteed money over the next several years, however, could be a different story.

Jerome Ford’s Emergence Robbed Nick Chubb of Leverage With Browns

Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford stepped up against the Jets.

GettyCleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford.

Fortunately for the Browns, if they can’t work out an agreement with Chubb, they have Ford to fall back on as their primary running back. As good of news as that is for the team, it’s equally bad for Chubb’s negotiating leverage.

Ford rushed for 813 yards and 4 TDs at a clip of 4.0 yards per attempt, according to Pro Football Reference. He also caught 44 passes for 319 yards and 5 scores, displaying his ability as a dual-threat back.

Cleveland drafted Ford in the fifth round in 2022. He still has two years remaining on a rookie deal worth only $4 million total. If the Browns can’t work out an agreement with Chubb, there is no reason they won’t believe they can transition to Ford as RB1, then find value again in the late rounds to secure him a quality backup.

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