The Browns and Myles Garrett agreed to a deal Tuesday that would make the Pro Bowl pass rusher the league’s highest-paid defensive player. Garrett signed the contract Wednesday.
The deal will make Garrett the NFL’s highest-paid defender. It will be worth $125MM over five years, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). This comes in $1.5MM north of the NFL’s previous highest-paid defender, Khalil Mack.
Cleveland will guarantee Garrett $100MM — $50MM at signing — and has its top defender signed through 2026, Rapoport tweets. The $100MM figure will surpass Mack as well, though the Bears edge rusher’s $60MM fully guaranteed will still lead all defenders.
Despite the ugly end to Garrett’s 2019 season, this process has moved fast. The Browns began extension talks with their star defensive end barely a month ago, and the team with the most cap space appears on the verge of resetting the defender market. This would give the league two new market-topping deals in two weeks, with Patrick Mahomes agreeing to a $45MM-per-year pact July 6.
Although Cleveland has a new GM, Andrew Berry was with the team when Garrett went No. 1 overall in 2017. Berry has been active this offseason, authorizing big-money payments to Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper. Garrett’s deal, though, would be the foundational piece of a Browns defense that largely consists of rookie contracts. Garrett is signed through 2021, after the Browns picked up his fifth-year option.
Garrett’s resume is not on Mack’s level just yet, but he’s nearly five years younger — at 24 — and has become one of the game’s best pass rushers. The former Texas A&M standout registered 13.5 sacks and 29 QB knockdowns in 2018. He was on his way to a better statistical season last year, recording 10 sacks in 10 games. But the NFL suspended Garrett for the rest of 2019 after he struck Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet. Roger Goodell reinstated Garrett earlier this year.
Prior to Garrett, the Browns had squandered several first-round investments — from Johnny Manziel to Justin Gilbert to Corey Coleman — in recent drafts. This massive extension coming to pass would represent a tide change for a Cleveland team that has not seen many homegrown players come through worthy of such an accord in the modern era.
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