The Browns signed running back Nick Chubb to a three year, $36.6 million extension tonight, locking up one of their key offensive players for the foreseeable future. The contract will make Chubb the 6th highest paid running back, in terms of average per year, in the NFL while guaranteeing him $20 million.
Per a league source with knowledge of the contract Chubb will receive $17.133 million in fully guaranteed salary at signing. The full guarantee consists of Chubb’s 2021 and 2022 base salary along with a $12 million signing bonus and $3 million option bonus in the second year of the contract. The remaining $2.87 million in guarantees will vest to a full guarantee in 2022, making the $20 million figure virtually guaranteed at signing.
The full contract details are as follows
In 2021 Chubb will receive a $920,000 base salary and a $12 million signing bonus. His salary cap number will be $4.78 million, about a $500,000 increase from his current cap figure.
In 2022 Chubb will earn a fully guaranteed $1.213 million base salary and $3 million guaranteed option bonus. His cap charge will be $5.21 million this year.
In 2023 Chubb will earn a $10.85 million salary of which $2.867 million is protected for injury and will be fully guaranteed by 2022. The salary cap charge is $14.85 million.
In 2024 Chubb will earn a non-guaranteed salary of $11.775 million and up to $425,000 in per game bonuses. The cap charge in the final year of the contract is $16.2 million.
The new money in the contract works out to $36.6 million, a number that takes into account the fact that Chubb would have received a raise from his stated base salary this year due to a 17th game. This has not been a standard across the board when negotiating contracts.
Chubb’s contract tracks with the Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry recent contracts while being significantly stronger than the Aaron Jones contract despite a similar APY. The strength of Chubb’s contract more or less lies in the two year cash flow and the length of the contract, which at three years is the shortest $10M+ per year RB contract on the market. While the length of contracts at this position often is not as important as other positions it does give Chubb a chance to keep his career moving if he is one of the few who evades the running back breakdown. On a per year basis Chubb will receive $6.67M in guarantees which compares favorably to the players mentioned above and moves past Cook’s $6.375 million per year in guarantees. The amount of prorated money relative to the size of the contract is also very strong for Chubb.
Chubb will receive $24.4 million in new money over two years which blows past Aaron Jones’ $20 million and falling a hair under Henry ($25.5M), Cook ($26M) and Mixon ($27.5M). Chubb has less downside than all of these players due to the per game bonus structure. Chubb has just $425,000 in per game bonuses across the contract which locks his two year in at $24.4M and gives him a worst case scenario of $36.175M if he plays all three years. That puts the downside value of the contract above the downside value of each of the other players.
The cash numbers here represent a strong commitment from the Browns. We estimated a two year franchise tag value for Chubb of $21.1 million and he will instead earn $24.4 million over that same timeframe. If the Browns were to walk away before paying out that $24.4 million they would wind up paying Chubb $16.4M for the 2022 season.
The salary cap structure provides a short term benefit for the Browns but may leave them a bit compromised in the future. The team takes just an extra $500,000 in cap charges this year and $5.2 million in cap charges in 2022. That is important for the Browns who are right up against the cap next year if a Mayfield extension is not complete. That cap number jumps to $14.85 million in 2023 which is the year when the salary cap is expected to increase. As mentioned above it is doubtful that the Browns want to release Chubb in 2023 so they could be in a position where they look to restructure Chubb depending on what the cap looks like that year. The deal does keep the franchise tag completely open for Baker Mayfield in 2023.
The contract protects Chubb from the uncertainty of free agency. Free agency has basically been a nightmare for running backs in recent years. Jones’ contract only paid him $10M per year over the first two seasons and Melvin Gordon only reached $8 million a season. The Browns could have gone the Packers route and chanced free agency but instead treated Chubb like a franchise players anticipating him to be their version of Derrick Henry for the next three seasons.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.