NFL Rumors: Nick Chubb's future isn't as grim as Browns fans feared

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb has made a miraculous recovery from a gruesome injury before, but his future in Cleveland is still doubtful.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb has been the heart and soul of the Browns' offense since being selected with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. As the key cog in a ground-and-pound offense, Chubb has amassed 7,522 scrimmage yards and 52 touchdowns in 77 games.

Chubb has become a superhero in Cleveland, and not just because he donned a mask before the team's Week 17 victory over the New York Jets. Still, he hasn't been invincible. The running back spent most of the 2023 NFL season on the sidelines after suffering a gruesome injury during a divisional matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was later revealed that Chubb would require two separate surgeries to repair his ACL, MCL and meniscus.

Even though multiple media outlets expect Chubb to be a salary cap casualty this year, Browns general manager Andrew Berry has reiterated the franchise's intention of retaining their star running back.

Browns plan on keeping Nick Chubb for the foreseeable future

Keeping Chubb around may not might be that simple. The Browns are currently projected to be nearly $20 million over the 2024 NFL salary cap.

Chubb is heading into the final year of a three-year, $36.6 million deal he signed in 2021. The running back has a $15.8 million cap hit in 2024, third-highest among all running backs, and the Browns could save $11.8 million in cap space if they elect to part ways with Chubb before the season.

Cleveland's cap issues can largely be attributed to the controversial five-year, $230 million contract they handed to quarterback Deshaun Watson in 2022. Watson is set to carry cap figures around $63 million in each of the next three seasons. By restructuring Watson's contract for the second consecutive year, the Browns could reduce his 2024 cap number to $28 million, which would help free up almost $35 million in cap space. That would certainly be enough to keep Chubb around.

Berry has said that the team will explore the possibility of restructuring Chubb's contract. In the end, it'll likely come down to whether or not the Browns believe that Chubb can be as impactful as he was. After all, the four-time Pro Bowler is coming off of two major knee surgeries at age 28.

"Nobody wants to see that carry in Pittsburgh be the last time he carries the ball for the Cleveland Browns," Berry said. "And obviously there are things that we'll have to work through, but that would not be our intention. We obviously will work to keep him on the team."

Chubb was hitting his stride prior to the injury. In 2022, he was named a second-team All-Pro after logging a career-high 1,525 rushing yards. In the five full quarters of football he played in 2023, Chubb had already compiled 170 rushing yards on 28 carries — an average of 6.1 yards per carry.

This isn't the first time that Chubb has attempted to battle back from a catestrophic knee injury. Chubb previously tore the PCL, MCL and LCL in his left knee during his collegiate career at Georgia — the same knee he injured in 2023. For any other player, an injury like that may have been enough to derail their career, but for Chubb, it was merely a setback.

Chubb has been the Browns' engine on the field and their soft-spoken leader off the field. For Berry, it may be difficult to move on from a player that is revered by both the players in the locker room and the fans in the stands.

NFL Rumors: Chiefs-Chris Jones doubt, CeeDee Lamb future, Browns shocking cut. NFL Rumors: Chiefs-Chris Jones doubt, CeeDee Lamb future, Browns shocking cut. dark. Next