Browns Rumors

Browns’ Greedy Williams Receives Full Clearance

For the first time in nearly a year, Greedy Williams was a full practice participant. The Browns began their 11-on-11 drills without Williams on Tuesday. A day later, the former second-round pick was full-go, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes.

The third-year cornerback is officially off the Browns’ active/PUP list and will attempt to return to Cleveland’s starting lineup. A shoulder nerve issue sidelined Williams during training camp last year — on the same day ex-Williams LSU teammate Grant Delpit suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon — and he went on IR in October. Neither Williams nor Delpit played last season.

The Browns have eased Delpit back into action, but Williams can begin making a legitimate attempt to recapture his starting job. A second-round pick during John Dorsey‘s GM regime, Williams started 12 games as a rookie. While Williams will face stiffer competition for a first-string job this year, he lined up with the Browns’ starting defense during OTAs and was back in that role Wednesday

After using stopgap solutions alongside Denzel Ward in 2020, the Browns were active in bolstering their cornerback group this offseason. Cleveland signed Troy Hill and drafted Greg Newsome in the first round. Williams’ return gives the team interesting depth. The Browns have made extensive outside investments on defense this year, after ranking 25th in DVOA on that side of the ball last season. But the returns of Williams and Delpit also stand to strengthen the unit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Chubb, Thomas, Allen, Wilson

Let’s catch up on the details of some of the big contracts recently signed around the NFL:

  • We heard last night that Browns running back Nick Chubb was signing a big three-year extension worth $36MM with $20MM guaranteed. We’ve got the full equation now, thanks to what a league source told Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com. For starters, Chubb is getting a $12MM signing bonus. It also turns out that not *quite* $20MM is fully guaranteed. The actual guarantee is only $17.133MM. However, it’s almost effectively $20MM, since the other $2.87MM in guarantees vests in 2022 and it’s incredibly unlikely Chubb would be off the roster by then. Chubb will have low salaries and low cap hits in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, he’ll have a cap hit of $14.85MM. He’ll have a $10.85MM salary but only the $2.87MM of that will be guaranteed. In 2024, he’ll have a non-guaranteed salary of $11.775MM and a cap hit of $16.2MM for his final year.
  • Washington just made Logan Thomas the seventh highest-paid tight end in the game, and now we have new figures on his deal. His three-year, $24MM extension will give him a cap hit of $6.465MM in 2022, $8.75MM in 2023, and $8.315MM in 2024, John Keim of EPSN.com reports. The dead cap hits for those three years will be $7.465MM, $3.5MM, and $1.75MM respectively. In other words it won’t be too hard for the team to get out of the contract after 2022 if they wanted to. Thomas will receive a $300K roster bonus each season, and is due a $500K roster bonus on the fifth day of the 2024 league year, so that will be an important date in the final season of his new pact.
  • Thomas wasn’t the only player to get an extension from Washington this past week. The Football Team also gave defensive tackle Jonathan Allen a big four-year, $72MM deal. We didn’t previously know the full guaranteed amount, but it’s apparently $35.6MM. Allen’s cap hits for those four new seasons will be $9.5MM, $21.5MM, $21.5MM, and $23MM, Keim writes. As such, he won’t start really weighing down Washington’s books until 2023. He has a $14MM salary for that season which becomes guaranteed on the third day of that league year. His dead cap charges will be $26MM, $18MM, $12MM, $6MM for 2022-2025.
  • Zach Wilson and the Jets avoided potential disaster by agreeing to terms on his rookie deal right before training camp started, and now we have more context on the holdup. We knew there was an issue about potential signing bonus money deferment, and it turns out New York wanted the rookie quarterback to wait to get a significant amount of cash. The Jets “only opened negotiations last week,” and wanted Wilson to defer a whopping $6MM of his signing bonus to 2022, a source told Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). After the team relented and agreed to pay the whole signing bonus upfront, Wilson hopped on a plane to New York. In return, the Jets did get some of the offset language they were seeking.

Browns Gave Paul DePodesta Five-Year Extension In 2020

The Browns’ young GM/HC combo of Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski, both of whom were hired in January 2020, appear to have the team headed in the right direction. Although much of the current roster was constructed by former GM John Dorsey, the Browns finally got back to the postseason with Berry and Stefanski at the helm, and they look poised for an extended run of competitiveness.

Berry and Stefanski are signed through 2024, and so is the man who is largely responsible for their hirings, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta. As Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal writes, DePodesta was given a five-year extension in 2020, which club owner Jimmy Haslam just revealed yesterday.

It lines up with [Berry and Stefanski],” Haslam said of DePodesta’s contract. “That makes all the sense, and we’re super excited about that. Paul’s going to be with us for a significant amount of time. Paul’s not the type, you don’t need to announce something on Paul’s behalf, but he’s going to be with us for a significant amount of time.”

Haslam brought DePodesta on board in January 2016, and his hire was an unconventional one to say the least. He had no previous football experience, having made his name as a Major League Baseball executive with the Moneyball-era Athletics before becoming the GM of the Dodgers. He also worked in the front offices of the Padres and Mets.

His analytics-based approach to roster construction is what initially caught Haslam’s attention, and he has clearly earned the owner’s trust over his first few years in Cleveland. DePodesta has outlasted former executive VP of football operations Sashi Brown and Dorsey, and Berry and Stefanski were the GM and head coach candidates that DePodesta preferred. For the first time in a long time, the organization’s top power brokers appear to be completely in sync, and Haslam has acted to maintain that unified vision.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/31/21

We’ve got a bunch of minor moves to report from what turned out to be a pretty busy Saturday in the NFL:

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

  • Claimed off waivers from Dolphins: OL Ross Reynolds

Hundley is the biggest signing on this list. The Colts adding him is a pretty good sign they expect Carson Wentz to miss some significant time. Assuming Wentz misses games, Hundley will battle it out with second-year pro Jacob Eason.

A couple of kickers who have started a bunch of games both found themselves sent packing in Ficken and Rosas. Mannion latched on with the Seahawks. He’s familiar with new Seattle OC Shane Waldron from their time together with the Rams, explaining why the Seahawks added him as an option behind Russell Wilson.

Browns, Nick Chubb Agree On $36MM Extension

We’ve heard a lot about a potential Nick Chubb extension this offseason, and now it’s officially happening. The Browns and the running back have agreed to terms on an extension, a source told Mike Jones of USA Today (Twitter link).

Jones said four years, but it’s actually a three-year extension worth $36MM with $20MM guaranteed, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson was first to tweet that a deal was close. It had always been up in the air whether something would get done before the season started, but they managed to get it done with plenty of time to spare.

As a second-round pick in 2018, Chubb was previously set to enter the final year of his rookie deal. He’s been one of the best running backs in the NFL since entering the league, and has made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons.

The Georgia product led the league in rushing in 2019 and led the league in rushing touchdowns last year with 12 despite playing only 12 games. Impressively, Chubb has averaged at least five yards per carry in each of his three pro seasons.

Chubb is now one of the league’s highest-paid running backs, and he should have at least another opportunity to break the bank. As a result of this relatively short-term deal, Chubb will get to re-enter free agency in the spring of 2025 when he’ll still only be 29.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski loves to run the ball, and he wasn’t about to let the engine of his offense go anywhere. The deal will keep Chubb tied to the Browns through the 2024 campaign. Cleveland also has Kareem Hunt in their backfield, but that didn’t appear to make them at all hesitant about paying Chubb.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Hire Bob Quinn

The Browns have hired former Lions GM Bob Quinn as a Senior Consultant (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Quinn will act as a “sounding board” for GM Andrew Berry as he returns to football for the first time since November of last year. 

Quinn, a longtime scout/exec for the Patriots, was hired as the Lions’ GM in January of 2016. After inheriting Jim Caldwell, he made his first official head-coaching hire in Matt Patricia.

The Lions fired Quinn and Patricia shortly after their blowout Thanksgiving loss. It was a trying year for the Lions — they missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season and had just dropped back-to-back games against the Panthers and Texans in embarrassing fashion. And, in the (almost) three years leading up to Quinn’s firing, they posted a 13-29-1 record.

Despite all of that, some believed that Quinn would still garner serious consideration in the early 2021 GM cycle. That didn’t happen, so he’ll spend the year with the Browns’ FO.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Will Not Trade Kareem Hunt

The Browns are once again a popular pick to make a deep postseason run, and their talent at running back is one of many reasons why. The depth chart is topped by Nick Chubb, who has earned two Pro Bowl nods in three professional seasons and whose 5.2 YPC average underscores his excellence. Behind Chubb, of course, is Kareem Hunt, a similarly capable runner who is also a force in the passing game.

When the Rams lost Cam Akers to an Achilles tear last week, there was chatter that LA could look to the free agent or trade markets to replace him. While the Rams have indicated they are comfortable with their in-house options, Hunt would profile as an intriguing trade target for any RB-needy team given the Browns’ depth (Cleveland is also rostering third-year pro D’Ernest Johnson, who has played well in limited snaps, and sixth-round rookie Demetric Felton).

Hunt’s trade appeal is heightened by the fact that he is tied to eminently reasonable base salaries of $1.3MM and $1.35MM over the next two seasons. However, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (subscription required) writes that the Browns have no interest in trading Hunt.

As Cabot observes, the Browns did not suffer much of a drop-off at all when Hunt replaced an injured Chubb for a few games in 2020, and she expects the club to continue to expand Hunt’s role. Thanks to Hunt’s receiving prowess, he and Chubb could appear on the field together a great deal this season, which will only make a potentially explosive offense even more dynamic. So regardless of whatever injuries or underperformance rival clubs might experience this summer, Hunt will not be made available.

In other Browns news, Cabot reports that no players will open training camp on the PUP list. Players like Odell Beckham, Grant Delpit, and Greedy Williams are all coming off major injuries, but they will be ready to hit the field with their teammates right away (though the Browns will continue to be cautious, of course).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Sign WR Anthony Schwartz, Finalize Draft Class

And just like that, the Browns have finished signing their draft class. After signing cornerback Greg Newsome II, the team completed the signing of their rookies by inking third-round receiver Anthony Schwartz to his pact (per Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot on Twitter). The four-year deal is worth $4.86MM.

[RELATED: Browns Sign First-Round CB Greg Newsome II]

Schwartz made a name for himself as a high school athlete, setting a number of sprint records. He ultimately joined Auburn to play football, and he saw time in 33 games across three seasons with the Tigers, hauling in 117 receptions for 1,433 yards and six touchdowns. Thanks to his explosive speed, Cleveland selected the wideout in the third round (No. 91) of the draft.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry sit atop the depth chart in Cleveland, but Schwartz could find himself generating some offensive snaps if he can beat the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins, and KhaDarel Hodge. There’s also a chance the rook contributes on special teams, although he’d have to beat out Peoples-Jones and D’Ernest Johnson for those roles.

With the signing, the Browns have officially inked all eight of the draft picks:

Round 1: No. 26 Greg Newsome II, CB (Northwestern)
Round 2: No. 52 (from Panthers) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB (Notre Dame) (signed)
Round 3: No. 91 (from Saints) Anthony Schwartz, WR (Auburn)
Round 4: No. 110 (from Eagles) James Hudson, OT (Cincinnati) (signed)
Round 4: No. 132 Tommy Togiai, DT (Ohio State) (signed)
Round 5: No. 153 (from Lions) Tony Fields II, LB (West Virginia) (signed)
Round 5: No. 169 (from Rams) Richard Lecounte III, S (Georgia) (signed)
Round 6: No. 211 Demetric Felton, RB (UCLA) (signed)

Browns Sign First-Round CB Greg Newsome II

Another first rounder has put pen to paper. Browns first-round cornerback Greg Newsome II has inked his rookie contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The No. 26 pick in the draft will get the standard four-year contract worth $12.75MM.

Newsome had a standout career at Northwestern, starting 18 games and guiding the Wildcats to a pair of Big Ten title games. After earning first-team All-Big-Ten honors in 2020, the defensive back declared for the draft. While Newsome was the fourth cornerback off the board, that was still good enough to warrant a first-selection.

The 6-foot-1 cornerback is a strong candidate to start opposite Denzel Ward in Cleveland, although Greedy Williams will give the rookie a run for his money as the veteran looks to return from a season-long shoulder ailment. No matter what role Newsome ends up playing, he’s ready to contribute however he can.

“My goal honestly is just to do whatever I can to help the team win,’’ Newsome said (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “Obviously, I would love to start at corner. I think any corner in the room would love to be a starting corner. At the end of the day, if I am helping the team win, that is all I can ask for.”

Newsome was the 29th first-round pick to ink their rookie contract, although his delay was inevitabl3 after switching representation earlier this offseason. Following the signing, the only unsigned first-round picks are Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (No. 2), 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (No. 3), and Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater (No. 13).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Browns Extend OL John Greco

The 2013 offseason was a busy one for the Cleveland Browns. The organization replaced general manager Tom Heckert Jr. with Michael Lombardi, and they hired Rob Chudzinski as head coach after canning Pat Shurmur. The team also made significant changes to the roster, ditching former third-round quarterback Colt McCoy and signing veteran Jason Campbell to a two-year deal. The front office also traded former third-overall pick Trent Richardson

One of the moves that went under the radar was a move made on July 23rd, 2013. On that date, the organization signed offensive lineman John Greco to a five-year, $13MM deal. The contract featured only $3MM in guaranteed money.

Greco originally joined the Browns before the 2011 season, as the Rams traded their former third-round pick to Cleveland for a conditional seventh-rounder. Greco appeared as a backup in 15 games during the 2011 campaign, but he endeared himself to the organization in 2012 when he started 10 games in place of Jason Pinkston.

The Browns proceeded to ink Greco to a surprisingly lengthy extension, but the organization ended up getting plenty out of the offensive guard. The lineman started 56 games for Cleveland between 2013 and 2016, including a stint at center when regular starter Alex Mack was sidelined.

While Greco dealt with a handful of injuries during his tenure in Cleveland, he emerged as a dependable, reliable option for the coaching staff. While he certainly wasn’t a household name, the lineman consistently ranked in the top-20 of Pro Football Focus’ offensive guard rankings.

Cleveland made some changes to their offensive line before the 2017 season, adding Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter. Greco was ultimately cut by the Browns at the end of the preseason. He didn’t end up seeing the field during his subsequent stint with the Saints, but he appeared in 21 games (with seven starts) for the Giants between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

While Greco’s career ended unceremoniously, he’s getting his time in the (PFR) limelight today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.