The Cleveland Browns have turned around their franchise in the last couple of years and are now in a position to compete for a Super Bowl. That task will not be easy by any means, but they are in position to compete with the best of them around the league.
In a wacky year that had no real offseason, amongst other things - the Browns were good. Cleveland competed with the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round and really could have won that game.
The AFC is a gauntlet, if the Browns do want to reach a Super Bowl, the pieces are in place. Next it just comes down to execution and fine tuning the spots that need it, mainly the defense. Cleveland is right there with a set of teams in the AFC that are built to compete.
The offense had it’s flaws. There was not really a threat of any deep passing game. Teams could load the box more often against the Browns to slow down their running back tandem.
Speaking of running backs, dating back to 2010 (at least), the Super Bowl winners have not relied on heavily paid ball carriers. The top paid leading rushers in those final games since that year go like this:
2013 Percy Harvin (Seahawks) - 2.5 million
2012 Ray Rice (Ravens) - 2 million
2020 Leonard Fournette - 2 million
In terms of base salaries, NFL Super Bowl winning teams just haven’t had luck lately in having high paid running backs perform and winning it all.
Since 2010 there have been six years that the winners of the Super Bowl’s leading rusher made less than 1 million dollars in base salary. These numbers are crazy when you look at some of the salaries that top running backs have been given:
Christian McCaffrey - 16 Million
Alvin Kamara - 15 million
Ezekiel Elliot - 15 million
David Johnson - 13 million
Dalvin Cook - 12.6 million
Out of these teams the New Orleans Saints were the only one that felt like a contender and even they were not very close. Many teams shy away from paying their premier running backs for the sole fact that the shelf life of a running back isn’t very long and because you can find them easily.
Every year you see a player come out of no where and be a very good running back. This past season it was un-drafted rookie James Robinson for the Jacksonville Jagurs. Washington’s Antonio Gibson is another player that isn’t big name, but was solid.
The point is that the data is there for teams to simply walk away from running backs when it comes to contract talks. Within the next year the Cleveland Browns will have to make a tough decision on if they will want to extend one of the NFL’s best in Nick Chubb.
Chubb has done everything right and he is simply one of the best. There is no worry or off-field problems and he just shows up and works. The harsh reality is that his agent is probably going to want north of 12 million in base salary. Which, is possible, but you would have to cut costs elsewhere and it would limit your flexibility.
Cleveland has a very good offensive line that many running backs could be very good behind. D’Ernest Johnson looked solid in a very limited role at times. By not paying Chubb the Browns would retain flexibility with their salary cap. Money could be spent on corners, defensive ends and wide receivers. Positions that are not as quite “a dime a dozen”, as the running back position is.
If the Browns would decide to extend Chubb, (they want to for the right price), then that would be the end of Kareem Hunt in Cleveland when that time comes. Hunt was extended on a deal that is very tradable and gives them insurance if they are not able to extend Chubb.
With the way the winners of the league in the past have approached the running back position there is no need to throw Nick Chubb an insane contract. If Cleveland can keep him on a more friendly deal, it’s great for both sides. If not, the Browns have plenty of routes they could decide to roll down.