The Cleveland Browns 2021 roster is loaded.
The Browns, once the AFC North’s biggest disappointment, have turned things around with the arrival of GM Andrew Berry and reigning NFL Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski.
Though the team has its eyes on the prize, a conference championship and deep playoff run in 2021, inquiring minds wonder what happens to this roster at season’s end.
In short, not all of these stars will likely stay together.
Here are two Browns stars likely gone after this season.
2. Wyatt Teller – Guard
The Browns finalized running back Nick Chubb‘s extension a few weeks ago.
Chubb is successful for a host of reasons including the outstanding offensive line blocking for him.
Right guard Wyatt Teller is among the stars of that line that make the Browns running game tick.
He is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.
The Browns appear to be playing a wait-and-see approach with Teller.
Teller, 26, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
It is a four-year deal worth $2.7 million.
Teller is a top guard, and the annual going rate for them is over $13 million.
The Browns know that Teller is valuable.
His improvement between 2019 and 2020 was considerable.
The question the Browns have to answer is whether they can afford his salary increase or afford to be without him.
Wyatt Teller's improvement in 2020 was nothing short of incredible 🤯 💪 pic.twitter.com/Netf8DoOnB
— PFF (@PFF) February 23, 2021
Highest-Graded Players of 2020:
1. Aaron Rodgers – 94.9
2. Wyatt Teller – 93.8
3. Patrick Mahomes – 93.0
3. Travis Kelce – 93.0 pic.twitter.com/tq87J9q66j
— PFF (@PFF) December 19, 2020
For his part, Teller has openly talked about loving Cleveland, but his future remains very much uncertain after the 2021 season.
#Browns RG Wyatt Teller on whether there have been contract talks: "I love Cleveland. I love the fans. I love the city. That's the personal, business side of it. They work with my agent and he kind of leaves me out of it. Right now, the best thing I can do is focus on football."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) August 11, 2021
1. Austin Hooper – Tight End
Austin Hooper was the much sought after free agent tight end in the 2020 offseason.
Berry signed him knowing that Stefanski has a reputation for heavy use of tight ends.
It is a big contract.
The Browns have signed TE Austin Hooper to a 4 year $44 Million contract. pic.twitter.com/nJ3xVhPTxf
— Everything Cleveland (@everythingcle_) March 16, 2020
Though Hooper was out for three games with appendicitis that required emergency surgery and a neck injury, some argue he earned his money with a clutch fourth down catch in the Browns vs. Chiefs Divisional playoff game.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 17, 2021
Stephen Carlson will hopefully be back in 2022 fully recovered from his 2021 season-ending injury.
There were unofficial rumors the Browns were already shopping Hooper.
The Supposed Austin Hooper trade rumors are nonsense. He isn’t going anywhere this year. It would cost more to trade him then it would to keep him
— Eric B (@ebiz42) August 6, 2021
It makes more sense to give Hooper a second year in the Stefanski system.
Baker Mayfield and Hooper get a little more time to work the chemistry.
Hooper delivered in 2020 to the tune of 435 yards and four touchdowns; however, that production was way down from his 2019 season in Atlanta where he scored six touchdowns with 787 yards.
Maybe it is not a fair assessment since the multiple tight ends were in use in 2020.
The rookie Bryant had 238 yards and three touchdowns.
Njoku had 213 yards and two touchdowns.
It could come down to dollars though.
Bryant and Njoku are still playing under rookie contracts.
Njoku’s fifth-year option will be up in 2022.
Though he wanted a trade in 2020, he has expressed an interest in signing a long-term deal with the Browns.
#Browns TE David Njoku said today he wants to stay in Cleveland and is instructing his agent to start working on a new deal. Njoku is entering the final year of his rookie contract and recently returned to @malkikawa of @FirstRoundMgmt for representation.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 20, 2021
Trying to read the tea leaves on the Browns future seasons’ rosters is practically impossible.
There is too much football to be played between now and then.
Right now, the expectation is for the team to succeed with the current roster in 2021.
The rest will take care of itself later.