The running back salary landscape has shifted somewhat over the past year and change. Several members of the 2017 running back class secured long-term extensions, creating a host of new eight-figure-per-year contracts. One of 2018’s top draftees is now up for a new deal.
Nick Chubb has become one of the NFL’s top backs but has no intention of testing the market. The fourth-year back said Tuesday, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he believes his agent has begun extension talks with the Browns. Chubb would prefer that scenario reaching a lucrative conclusion. He has not set a deadline regarding an extension, Cabot adds.
“I don’t like uncertainty, and I know here in Cleveland what I have with the players and coaches,’’ Chubb said. “This is the city of Cleveland, and I don’t know how things will be anywhere else. So Cleveland is where I want to be and that is my main focus – to be here in Cleveland.”
This plan will probably work for the Browns, even though they have a couple of other high-profile extension candidates — Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward — on which to focus at some point in the near future. Chubb has become the centerpiece player on Cleveland’s offense. After finishing second in the 2019 rushing race (1,494 yards), Chubb rushed for a career-high 12 touchdowns last season. The Georgia product did that in just 12 games, averaging 5.6 yards per carry in an injury-shortened slate.
Although the Browns gave Kareem Hunt an extension, the former rushing champion/overqualified backup is signed through 2022 at just $6MM per year. Chubb will undoubtedly be eyeing a top-tier running back contract. Christian McCaffrey‘s $16MM-AAV extension now tops the market, with six backs drafted from 2016-17 also signed for at least $12MM annually. While Chubb does not contribute much in the passing game, he has proven to be one of the league’s best ball carriers. The 25-year-old back will be able to comfortably ask for a deal north of that $12MM-per-year threshold.
The Browns have Chubb under contract through the end of this season but retain exclusive negotiating rights through next March’s legal tampering period. Should no deal be reached by then, the franchise tag will be an option. This did not end up being necessary for six of the seven eight-figure-per-year backs. McCaffrey signed with two years of rookie-contract control left; so did Ezekiel Elliott. Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook signed their deals going into their contract years — Chubb’s present window — while the Packers extended Aaron Jones just ahead of his free agency. Derrick Henry‘s 2020 tag led to a $12.5MM-AAV extension.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.