Devonta Freeman‘s five-year, $41.25MM deal pleased Isaiah Crowell, who recently hired Drew Rosenhaus to handle negotiations for a potential Browns extension. The fourth-year Cleveland running back said he spent a few days analyzing the Falcons back’s deal.
“I mean, you’re going to think about it,” Crowell said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “It’s just obvious that you think about it. I feel like it’s great for him. I feel like he’s a great player and he deserves it. I feel like he changed the market. I feel like it’s a great deal for him and I feel like it’s just a great deal for all the running backs who are out here right now that deserve to get paid.”
The 24-year-old Crowell said Rosenhaus and the Browns were in “heavy negotiations” when the agent visited Browns camp in Berea, Ohio, a few weeks ago. Rosenhaus did not confirm that, via Cabot. Crowell is coming off a career-best 952-yard rushing season and stands to run behind an improved offensive line in 2017. Acknowledging he’s angling for that second contract, Crowell also wants to be known as a top-five back.
“I know my time is coming. I’m just being patient and just stay working and keep working hard and just trying to be the best I can be. … “It’s time for that to change,” Crowell said of being left out of the elite running backs conversation. “That’s why I’m just trying to go out here and prove myself, just each and every play when I’m out there on the field, so that won’t be the case.”
Here’s the latest on the running back market.
- Freeman’s Falcons deal comes with $17MM fully guaranteed and injury guarantees throughout the first three years of the contract, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. Bonuses will cover most of the next three years, with Freeman set to earn base salaries of $1.3MM (2017), $2MM (’18) and $3.75MM (’19). His bases rise to $6.5MM in 2020, $6.25MM in 2021 and $8.25MM in 2022, per Florio. The Falcons likely strongly suggested to Freeman they wouldn’t use the franchise tag on him in 2018, Florio writes, and taking the new-money average of $8.25MM per year protects him from an injury diminishing his value on the open market. Freeman would have been a 26-year-old UFA come March and on a salary cap that could push $180MM next year, meaning he possibly could have earned more on the open market. But the running back market has not been as fruitful as it once was, likely leading to Freeman accepting this offer while it was on the table.
- The Steelers could sweeten Le’Veon Bell‘s $12.1MM franchise tag arrangement by adding salary, more signing bonus or incentives to entice the holdout running back to return to work, Florio writes. The sides missed the extension window and can’t resume talks until after the season, though, and Florio wonders if the Steelers’ hardball tactics with Bell will backfire. Kevin Colbert called out Bell earlier this week for what he deems a flawed holdout strategy, and Florio notes this could cause Bell — who is within his rights to not report since he can’t be fined under the present circumstances — to strengthen his resolve regarding this matter.
- Freeman did well to secure a $15MM signing bonus — or 70 percent of the value of his deal’s first three years — in his second Falcons contract, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap writes. LeSean McCoy‘s signing bonus represented 48 percent of his take-home pay over the first three years of his Bills deal, Fitzgerald notes, illustrating this component of Freeman’s pact as a clear win.