Feeling Cap Pinch, Could Browns Trade RB Nick Chubb?
The effects of the hefty Deshaun Watson contract might already be peeking through for the Cleveland Browns, as the team is apparently thinking of trading tailback Nick Chubb to alleviate some salary cap pressure, according to Marc Sessler of NFL Network.
A supplementary report by Cleveland.com said the Browns have “no plans” to trade Chubb, and offered a re-worked contract with Watson as a solution for the team’s cap shortfall.
According to Over the Cap, Cleveland needs to trim $14 million from its 2023 books before March 15.
Along with the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry — who’s also reported to be on the trade block — Chubb has been a model of consistency on the ground. His 6,341 rushing yards and 48 touchdown surges are both the second-most in the NFL since 2018.
Not just for the great production, it would be a curious move if the Browns really were to trade Chubb. Veteran Kareem Hunt, who’s been his backup for the past four go-round is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Behind those two, Cleveland only rosters second-year man Jerome Ford — who had all of eight totes this past campaign — and D’Ernest Johnson.
Such a decision would likely create a bit of a divide among the Browns’ fanbase, as Chubb has been a worthwhile mainstay since he was drafted in the second round in 2018.
It might be the price they have to pay. That is, on top of the most expensive pact in league history. For better or worse, Cleveland is tied to Watson, who they courted and eventually landed last off-season.
The front office went out and got Amari Cooper from Dallas to give him a reliable outside presence. He turned in a 1,100-yard showing, but behind him, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and tight end David Njoku, no receiver had more than 240 yards receiving.
Surely, this will be a development that Pittsburgh Steelers fans will be keeping an eye on. Chubb had a career-best 1,525 yards on the ground last campaign. His dozen scores tied a high.
Chubb has two more years remaining on his contract. He’s due nearly $11 million in 2023 and over $12 million in 2024. A full, traditional restructure of Watson’s contract could save Cleveland up to $33.7 million in cap space for 2023, but would push his annual cap hit in future years to over $66 million annually and at nearly a quarter of the team’s overall salary cap. Watson’s entire five-year, $230 million contract is guaranteed.