First-round picks that hit usually earn a second contract. For the Cleveland Browns, investing in No.1 overall picks is their specialty. After three years, Myles Garrett has more than earned the right to begin extension talks in 2020. Now the question is, will the Browns be willing to cough up the dough?
With 30.5 career sacks and back-to-back double-digit sack seasons, the Browns would be foolish to let Garrett touch free agency. According to a recent report, the team is set to offer the defensive end a new contract that should make him one of the league’s highest-paid defenders.
Despite the concern around the season starting later, the Browns can’t afford to let Garrett consider testing the market somewhere else. After the long list of strikeouts of former first-rounders, the former Aggie has finally been the one blessing Jimmy Haslam’s squad can say they nailed. With the talent of a rising Defensive Player of the Year, along with All-Pro potential, Garrett is as surefire as they come.
Anytime the $100 million question comes up, scouts and fans will wonder if a player is worth that type of money. Outside of one incident in 2019, Garrett might be the only defender in the league worth anywhere near that payday.
Cleveland Browns must extend Myles Garrett in 2020
Garrett’s early success
Browns’ new general manager Andrew Berry has made it clear that Garrett will be a part of the long-term plan. After picking up Garrett’s $15.1 million fifth-year option for the 2021 season, discussions for a mega-deal started to gain steam. The 24-year old’s early success has transpired into a Pro Bowl nod, a second-team All-Pro selection, and a place on the All-Rookie team.
With a man calling the shots, the message is clear that Berry views Garrett as a sound piece for the organization moving forward.
“We do see Myles as a long-term member and pillar in our organization,” Berry said last on Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan. “Great player, great person. Obviously, he did make a mistake last year that he’s learned from. But our confidence in and faith in Myles has not wavered and we’re looking to seeing what he does this year and certainly for years to come.”
Few have ever had a problem with Garrett’s personality. Described as a gentle giant with a love of dinosaurs and poetry, it’s hard to imagine seeing the 6-foot-4, 270-plus pound defender terrorize the backfield on a daily basis.
Myles Garrett with his 3rd sack of the game.. and there's still 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. 😳@MylesLGarrett
📺: #CLEvsNYJ on ESPN
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2019
Each year has been one to remember for the star as well. Garrett missed five games in his first season yet still managed to tally 31 tackles and seven sacks. Fast forward to the end of the 2018 campaign, and he finished with 13.5 sacks, ranking seventh among pass rushers. The 2019 season could have been his best year, as Garrett tallied 10 sacks through 10 games.
However, few will forget what happened on that fateful November night.
The hit heard around the NFL
The “mistake” Berry mentioned is one that has to be addressed. In the final seconds of a matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Garrett became a headline for his altercation with quarterback Mason Rudolph. According to Garrett, the violent act occurred due to Rudolph calling him a racial slur.
“He called me the N-word,” Garrett said to ESPN’s Mina Kimes earlier this year. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word.'”
Rudolph and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin both denied the claims the following day.
“I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on that field immediately following the altercation with Myles Garrett, and subsequently after the game,” Tomlin said. “I interacted with a lot of people in the Cleveland Browns organization — players and coaches. If Mason said what Myles claimed, it would have come out during the many interactions I had with those in the Browns’ organization.
“I received no indication of anything racial or anything of that nature in those interactions.”
No matter what was said in the heat of the moment, the hit cost Garrett the six remaining games of the year — making it the longest suspension for a single on-field incident in NFL history. On top of missing out on the race for MVP, Garrett would forfeit nearly $1.2 million in-game checks, plus a $45,623 fine.
Myles Garrett, 2019 dirty plays
Week 1: Punched Titans TE Delanie Walker after whistle
Week 2: Ended Jets QB Trevor Siemian's season on late hit
— Kevin Boilard (@KevinBoilard) November 15, 2019
While the Rudolph rumble certainly looks like the worst offense, this wouldn’t be Garrett’s first questionable call on the field. In Week 1, Garrett was fined for hitting Tennessee’s Delanie Walker after the whistle. A week later, he ended Trevor Siemian’s year with his second “roughing the passer” call. Both fines added up to nearly $50,000 and questions on his ability to remain off the NFL fine list.
Cause for concern?
Garrett will be heavily watched moving forward in his career. Accident or not, the NFL will always do their best to protect the man under center more than any other position — thus putting Garrett in a bind. Still, what comes down to the brass tax and final say is if the team believes Garrett can remain a 16-game star.
When looking at a future deal, the Browns will be offering Garrett something over the $100 million range. Outside of quarterbacks, the pass rusher could become the first player to earn a salary of over $30 million per season. And when looking at recent $100-plus million deals with DeMarcus Lawrence, Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Frank Clark, one could argue Garrett’s jumped into that conversation thanks to his production.
Guaranteed cash should set the tone in any new deal. Can the Browns afford to give Garrett a six-year deal with the $50 million upfront? If so, the team could be out on bringing in another veteran pass rusher such as Jadevon Clowney or other names on the market. Plus, the Browns will need to look to the future as Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, Baker Mayfield, and Kareem Hunt all will be up for extensions starting in 2020.
Does Garrett get the long term deal?
Any contract over the max deal will undoubtedly push one player out into free agency. Another slip-up from Garrett over the new deal could have the Browns suffering buyer’s remorse, putting them deeper in the hole than expected. Still, is there a pass rusher fans would want more than someone with Garrett’s potential?
Three straight years have proven that even in a draft with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, Garrett was the right call. With the recent line of suspensions, maybe the team will wait until the end of the 2020 season before opening their wallets.
Myles Garrett is usually playing RDE, but here is lined up at LDE on 3rd & 10. Shows his freakish athleticism by crossing 3 gaps (C opposite A) with a swim over the center for the sack: pic.twitter.com/zJPGqejPRT
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 21, 2018
For Cleveland, the clock is ticking on Garrett’s deal going smoothly. The team could play the risk of letting him play under his rookie contract another season, hoping he does just enough to get by. Transforming into one of the game’s rising stars, each sack adds another zero to the end of his long-term paycheck.
It’s a risk on both sides for the Browns to either sign or let Garrett wait. However, it’s better to have the talent than let him walk to face you on the opposite sideline. That’s the last thing the Browns need as a team on the rise.