Browns Rework Contract of Former Prized Free Agent

Jack Conklin

Getty Images Jack Conklin of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns have reworked the contract of veteran offensive tackle Jack Conklin, giving the tackle more guaranteed money, with added incentives for playing time.

Conklin was due $12 million in non-guaranteed salary for next season but the reworked deal will now net the former No. 6 overall pick in the draft $8 million fully guaranteed, per Field Yates of ESPN. And he’ll have the opportunity to make up to the full $12 million based on playing-time incentives

As Yates pointed out, it’s a logical deal for both sides, considering that Conklin is coming off a torn patellar tendon and missed 10 games last season. Conklin is expected to be ready for the start of the season and is ahead of schedule in his rehab, per Mary Kay Cabot of, who spoke with Conklin’s agent Drew Rosenhouse at the Senior Bowl.

The playing time incentive will be big for Conklin, who also dealt with a knee injury and dislocated elbow last season. But prior to that, he was relatively healthy, missing just seven games over five seasons.

Browns Struggled to Fill Tackle Void With Bevy of Injuries

The Browns were hammered with injuries at the tackle position beyond Conklin. Second-year left tackle Jedrick Wills was not 100% and backup swing tackle Chris Hubbard had season ending surgery on his triceps early in the year.

The injuries forced All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio to play tackle for multiple games and he more than held his own, once again proving his extraordinary value to the team. Former Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie told the Akron Beacon Journal this year that having future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas around as an example helped form him into the talent he is today.

“[Bitonio] learned from watching Joe Thomas,” Wylie said. “He saw Joe, and he said, ‘F***, that’s the way to practice. That’s the way to study. That’s the way to act on and off the field.’

“He’s thick. He’s tall. He’s got really good feet. He’s got great balance. Very seldom is he off balance. He’s got recover ability. He’ll get himself in a bad situation, for whatever reason, and he’s able to recover and still block his guy. Is he as good as Joe Thomas? No, but he has all the attributes that Joe Thomas has. He’s just in a different [position], obviously.”

Healthy Offensive Line Should Help Baker Mayfield

The Browns having an healthy offensive line should help quarterback Baker Mayfield get back on track for a crucial year. At times last season Mayfield worked behind a patchwork offensive line and he came out hobbled.

A Week 17 matchup against the Steelers where he was sacked nine times was enough for the QB to call it quits for the year and turn his focus on getting offseason surgery on his torn labrum with the Browns out of playoff contention.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs. Do I believe I could play better? Absolutely,” he said after that loss on January 3. “Do I believe there are positions that we as an offense could’ve been put in that would’ve been better? Absolutely. There are so many critiques throughout the year. If not, we wouldn’t be sitting here at 7-9.”

Mayfield tossed 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season, struggling down the stretch as the Browns finished 8-9.

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