Browns 2021 Offseason Roster Deep Dive – RBs/FBs

Welcome back to the second installment of the series. I am taking a deep dive into the Browns roster and how they can best fill the holes in their roster. Every few days I will be releasing a different position room.

For every position room, I have outlined how the NFL structures that position on the roster, taking into account the scheme variations the Browns have. The players we have in four categories: starter, rotation (play some snaps), depth (injury backup/special teams), and other (likely cut). Then I will lay out the options currently on the roster, available in FA as well as via the draft for all 53 spots.

Click to check out the Deep Dive for QBs.

Running Backs/Fullbacks

The average NFL team has 4.3 RBs/FBs on their roster. A #1 RB who can play all three downs as both a runner and a receiver. A 3rd down back to compliment them. Another who can offer depth and predominately play special teams. Then in the Browns case, a Fullback to fit Stefanski’s scheme.

Starting RB: Nick Chubb

Roster – The Browns likely have to make a decision this offseason on the future of Nick Chubb. Track record over the last four years shows every back who has got paid a high-value second contract has bombed out over their second deal and got cut/traded before it ended. The reason you would extend Chubb a year early if you’re going to do it is that it accelerated the signing bonus into his fourth year, making it cheaper to cut him after year six. The smart move, any intelligent Front Office would take it to enjoy the rookie contract and allow the back to walk, hopefully gaining a compensation pick in the process.

Running Back has an abundance of talent coming out of the draft every year meaning talent players picked up on day three or undrafted free agents can be plugged into Stefanski’s rushing friendly system. Nick Chubb himself has said he wouldn’t be able to produce the way he does without the offensive line in front of him. Good teams can’t pay everyone, so decisions on where they prioritize are coming. A Nick Chubb deal would likely cost the Browns just over $25m for years five and six of his career including the cost in dead cap to cut him before his seventh season. Money that could be better spent on other positions that correlate with winning much more.

Rotational 3rd Down Back: ?

Roster – The Browns extended Kareem Hunt last offseason, giving him a two year, $12m deal, adding to his 2nd round RFA tender for the 2020 season. The Hunt deal is very tradeable if they decide to extend Nick Chubb he will likely be moved on, possibly this offseason. The other option is that they now have their two-year transition to go from Chubb/Hunt in 2021, Hunt/Rookie in 2022, and then adding another rookie to replace Hunt in the 2023 draft.

FA – If they extend Nick Chubb this offseason then there is a very real chance that they trade off the Kareem Hunt deal. They could look to take advantage of the middle class of veterans taking basement deals and sign a running back to a one-year veteran minimum deal while they grab a draft pick for the third spot to develop.

Draft – As with above, if Hunt is traded they could go straight to the draft on day three to backup Chubb week one.

Depth RB: ?

Roster – D’Ernest Johnson has had a down year in 2020 in terms of his special teams’ production after a very solid 2019 season. He certainly has an option to come back in this role in 2021.

Draft – In terms of adding a third RB though, it is likely Rounds 6/7 (aka pre-order UDFA) or a UDFA. Whoever performs the best in special teams likely gets the role.

Rotational FB: Andy Janovich

Roster – Janovich has been solid and that is all you can ask for from a full back. His pass blocking on limited snaps has been incredible according to PFF but his run blocking which he is asked to do a lot more is much nearer average. He will be back in 2021 and has two years left on his deal.

Other: Johnny Stanton, John Kelly

Check back Friday for the Wide Receiver deep dive.

Any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JackDuffin. The DMs are open for any salary cap/roster construction questions you have.

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