Running mates: Chubb, Browns sign 3-year extension

Sports
Nick Chubb

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb catches a pass during an NFL football practice, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Nick Chubb may celebrate his huge contract extension by running extra sprints or lifting more weights.

“That’s who I am,” the running back said.

And it’s why the Browns love him.

Chubb signed a three-year, $36.6 million contract extension Monday with Cleveland, an indication of the team’s regard for his skills as an elite running back and appreciation for his quiet, unassuming leadership.

The Browns locked up the talented 25-year-old Chubb — he’ll also get $20 million guaranteed — for the future as they embark on what could be a special season in Cleveland. Expectations are running wild after the Browns ended their long playoff drought and won in the postseason last season.

Chubb has already rushed for 3,557 yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons, and there’s no reason to think he won’t keep rolling.

But what separates Chubb from other backs, and from most players, is his selflessness and work ethic.

“He doesn’t say much, and I think that sometimes seems like he’s not a leader in that regard, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s a leader in his action.”

Moments after reports surfaced Saturday that Chubb and the Browns had reached agreement on the deal, several of his teammates, including quarterback Baker Mayfield and All- Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, posted congratulatory messages on social media.

The outpouring meant a lot to Chubb — a man of action and few words.

“That’s who I am, and it shows that people are taking notice of my approach of how I do things,” Chubb said before practice. “I don’t really talk much. I go out there and I work and it says a lot that guys notice it and guys appreciate it and the team appreciates it because that’s who I am, so they accept me for who I am.”

In Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns have a 1-2 running back combo unlike any in the league. Hunt publicly campaigned for the team to sign Chubb, and now wants to be rewarded for his loyalty.

“Yeah, Kareem said Wagyu steaks on me,” Chubb said with a smile. “That’s all he keeps saying. I know he’s excited, and I’m excited, too.”

The path to his big payday wasn’t an easy one for Chubb, who suffered a major knee injury in 2015 at Georgia. But he immersed himself in countless hours of grueling rehab that have paid off.

Over the weekend, Chubb posted old photos of his damaged knee on Instagram with the caption: “Came a long way.”

Everything he wanted, everything he worked for came true.

“I can say it has now, but back then, it was a little blurry for me,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, if I’d ever be the same player or if I’d ever play again. So that’s just things I always hold onto in the back of my mind, just knowing where I came from and knowing where I want to be.”

Cleveland is where he wants to be now, and it’s why he’s happy to have the contract situation wrapped up. Because he only signed for three years, Chubb will be in line for another extension when he’s 28.

The Browns took Chubb with the No. 35 overall pick in 2018 and he’s part of a draft class that includes Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward, both of whom are eligible for extensions. Chubb rushed for 996 yards as a rookie and 1,494 yards in 2019, second-most in the league.

He’s a fan favorite in Cleveland, where his No. 24 jersey can be spotted around the city any time of year. During home games, fans chant “Chubb! Chubb!” urging Stefanski to call a running play for him any time the team nears the goal line.

Chubb, though, can score from anywhere and has TD runs of 88 and 92 yards. He’s also a solid receiver, and his 40-yard scoring reception in last year’s wild-card game helped seal the Browns’ 48-37 win over Pittsburgh.

Stefanski said signing a player like Chubb can reverberate through the organization.

“I’ve always said I want to keep everybody,” he said. “But certainly in moments like this when you reward a guy like Nick, I think it probably does send a good message.”

NOTES: Starting middle LB Anthony Walker Jr. limped off with a leg issue. He was checked by trainers before walking into the team’s facility. There was no immediate word on his condition. … C JC Tretter was “under the weather” and didn’t practice. … S Ronnie Harrison (hamstring) and DE Takk McKinley (undisclosed illness) remain out. … The Browns will practice in pads for the first time Tuesday.

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