Browns Predicted to Make Surprise Move With Nick Chubb

ESPN has predicted that Nick Chubb will land an extension this offseason from the Browns.

Getty Images ESPN has predicted that Nick Chubb will land an extension this offseason from the Browns.

The Cleveland Browns face a decision with Nick Chubb this offseason but a potential solution has him sticking around for the foreseeable future.

Chubb suffered a devastating season-ending knee injury in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s required a pair of surgeries and his timeline for a return is uncertain. The Browns have said he’s expected back at some point next season, but when that is exactly is unclear.

The issue the Browns face with Chubb is his contract. He’ll count $15.8 million against the cap and the Browns can save almost $12 million by releasing him. Parting ways with Chubb would have seemed like blasphemy at one point. But he’ll turn 29 next season and is coming off a serious injury.

However, Chubb has proved time and time again that the normal standards for running backs do not apply to him. Aaron Schatz of ESPN predicts instead of parting ways, the Browns could bank on Chubb looking like his old self once he’s healthy and ink him to an extension.

“Despite questions about his return from a knee injury, the Browns will sign Chubb to an extension which will allow them to keep him past the 2024 season, while also lowering his cap charge to help the Browns get under the number,” Schatz predicted on January 21. “A big running back contract may surprise some coming from the analytically forward Browns, but advanced analytics generally portray Chubb as one of the few running backs who truly makes a difference. (For example, he always excels at the NFL Next Gen Stats rushing yards over expectation metric, where he leads the NFL since 2021 with 597.)”

Browns Want Nick Chubb Back Next Season

Browns GM Andrew Berry wants Nick Chubb back next season.

Getty ImagesBrowns GM Andrew Berry wants Nick Chubb back next season.

Production has never been an issue for Chubb. He rushed for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns during the 2022 season. It was his fourth consecutive season rushing for over 1,000 yards, and his career 5.3 per carry average is among the NFL’s elite.

Chubb is an icon in Cleveland — a fan-favorite that never stirs the pot. He simply puts his head down and produces at a high level. The money decision is difficult but Browns general manager Andrew Berry plans to keep Chubb around.

“In terms of Nick moving forward, obviously, I understand that’s a little bit the elephant in the room,” Berry said on January 22. “Nobody wants to see that carry in Pittsburgh, be the last time he carries the ball for the Cleveland Browns. And obviously there are things that we’ll have to work through, but that would not be our intention as well. We obviously will work to keep him on the team.”

Chubb is a notorious workout warrior and has been intensely attacking his rehab. His mindset and approach have impressed Berry.

“I probably came into this year, let’s say on a scale of one to ten in terms of respect for Nick Chubb, it was a ten. And probably coming out of this year, it’s now a 20,” Berry said. “You would have never guessed that Nick was out for the season with how he operated within the building.”

Browns Have Other Decisions to Make in Backfield

The Cleveland Browns will have to decide whether or not to bring back Nick Chubb's backfield buddy Kareem Hunt.

Getty ImagesThe Cleveland Browns will have to decide whether or not to bring back Nick Chubb’s backfield buddy Kareem Hunt.

With Chubb likely out for a chunk of next season, the Browns need to find a sustainable solution in their backfield. Jerome Ford took on the lead back role last season with Chubb sidelined. He finished as the Browns’ leading rusher with 813 yards on 204 carries.
The Browns brought back Kareem Hunt shortly after Chubb’s injury. He collected 411 yards on 135 carries, averaging a very pedestrian 3.0 yards per carry. However, he was a strong option in short-yardage situations. He tallied a team-high nine rushing touchdowns during the regular season and scored two more — one receiving and one rushing — in a Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans.

Hunt will be a free agent this offseason and is uncertain of his next step. He’s open to returning to the Browns but did not get an outstanding review from ex-Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell, who coached him for five seasons. Mitchell questioned Hunt’s commitment to his craft and felt like Hunt had more to give.

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