Nick Chubb Suffers Multiple Ligament Tears, Out For Season

SEPTEMBER 20: The Browns made the expected move of shifting Chubb to IR. The team also confirmed Wednesday that the four-time Pro Bowler will miss the rest of the season. Hunt is now officially back on Cleveland’s roster as a replacement.

SEPTEMBER 18: Nick Chubb‘s injury is expected to sideline him for the rest of the season. The standout Browns running back is believed to have suffered multiple ligament tears, Ian Rapoport of reports.

It is not known which ligaments are torn, but the cart coming out to transport Chubb off the field in Pittsburgh — and ABC opting to not show a close-up replay of the injury — pointed to this outcome. More tests are on tap for Chubb, but he is unlikely to play again until 2024. Kevin Stefanski soon confirmed Chubb is expected to be out for the season.

Chubb’s contract runs through the 2024 season, but this will obviously deal a blow to his career and the Browns’ 2023 season. This is the same knee Chubb hurt while at Georgia. In October 2015, Chubb tore the MCL, PCL and LCL in his left knee. He came back to re-establish his standing with the Bulldogs and has since become one of the NFL’s best running backs. But the perennial Pro Bowler will be facing a road back much later in his career. Chubb will turn 28 in December.

The 2018 second-round pick had entered Week 2 as one of the league’s most durable backs. Chubb suffered a sprained MCL in 2020, costing him four games. He missed two contests the following year due to a calf strain. Otherwise, the top-tier back had avoided setbacks and continued to produce each year for the Browns.

Chubb did well to secure a three-year, $36.6MM extension in July 2021. That deal did not top the market, with Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott tied to higher-end contracts at that point. But Chubb collected $20MM guaranteed, signing a Browns re-up months after he became extension-eligible. While Chubb had long been taken care of — as the most recent RB to sign an eight-figure-per-year extension — he still participated in the Zoom meeting in which running backs discussed the declining state of their position. (That has since become the subject of an NFL grievance.) The injuries to Chubb and Saquon Barkley, who suffered a sprained ankle Sunday, will only intensify the attention given to the position.

While the likes of Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham and Russell Wilson sit above Chubb for career yards per carry, the modern Browns dynamo is in historically elite company among running backs in this department. Chubb came into Monday night with a 5.3-yard average, never finishing a season south of five yards per tote. For post-merger backs, only Jamaal Charles (5.4) and Bo Jackson reside above Chubb. He has ripped off four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, hitting a career-high 1,525 last year.

The Browns made some changes behind Chubb this offseason, letting Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson walk in free agency. Hunt had been Chubb’s backup since his personal conduct suspension ended midway through the 2019 season, while Johnson played behind both the standout backs in Cleveland. Johnson is now a Jaguar, while Hunt remains unsigned. Hunt has spoken to the Colts, Saints and Vikings but has not signed anywhere. Considering his experience in Stefanski’s system, a signing would not exactly be off the radar.

But Cleveland used Jerome Ford as Chubb’s primary backup in Pittsburgh. Ford totaled 106 yards on 16 carries. The Browns also obtained Pierre Strong via trade from the Patriots in August. An Alabama signee who transferred to Cincinnati, Ford posted a 1,300-yard season to help the Bearcats become the first Group of Five team to advance to the College Football Playoff in 2021. Last season, the Browns gave the fifth-round rookie only 15 carries. Upon letting Hunt’s contract expire, the Browns eyed a bigger role for Ford this season.

Ford, who clocked a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the 2022 Combine, should be expected to lead the way for a Browns team that has also lost veteran right tackle starter Jack Conklin. The former top-10 pick suffered ACL and MCL tears in Week 1. Attached to a $10.85MM base salary this season, Chubb is due an $11.78MM payout in 2024. This season, however, features the last of the guarantees in Chubb’s contract.

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