At least three teams have expressed interest in Crowell, a restricted free agent, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports. The Browns placed a second-round tender on Crowell, who probably isn't worth as much as a selection that high, in addition to the cost of an offer sheet. It is possible a team could offer the Browns a lower draft pick and/or player compensation in a trade, and then sign Crowell to a multi-year deal. The 24-year-old is coming off a 2016 campaign in which he posted career-best marks in carries (198), rushing yards (952), yards per carry (4.8), receptions (40) and receiving yards (319). He currently projects as the lead back in Cleveland, albeit with Duke Johnson also playing a major role. A trade likely would mean the Browns plan on using at least one high draft pick on a running back. Retaining Crowell wouldn't necessarily preclude them from doing the same.
The Browns have placed a second-round tender on Crowell in advance of free agency, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Crowell is in line to become a restricted free agent March 9, but in the meantime the Browns will look to ink the running back to a long-term deal. Assigning a second-round tender to Crowell all but assures that the Browns will retain the 5-foot-11, 225-pounder's services in 2017, a notion in line with coach Hue Jackson's assertions late last season that Crowell is "a key to (the team's) future." The 24-year-old rushed 198 times for a career-high 952 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games this past season, while adding 40 catches for 319 yards. Meanwhile, backfield mate Duke Johnson logged 73 carries for 358 yards and a TD, along with 53 catches for 514 yards in that same span.
Crowell ended his 2016 season with 19 carries for 152 yards and three catches for 16 yards during Sunday's matchup with the Steelers. Crowell waited until the last game of the season to have his best performance, as his 19 carries and 152 rushing yards were both a season high. He finished just 48 yards shy of his first 1,000 yard rushing season. Crowell is a restricted free agent in 2017, and if the Browns decide to take a running back with their No. 1 overall pick, he may find himself in a new uniform next fall. However, he'll be just 24 when the new campaign begins and having a productive, young running back is a rare thing in the NFL, so Cleveland may want to hold on to him.
Crowell rushed 16 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns while adding four catches for four yards on five targets in Saturday's 20-17 win over the Chargers. Crowell found pay dirt from eight yards out on Cleveland's first drive, then added a four-yard score in the second quarter. He hadn't scored since Week 8 coming in, but does have seven touchdowns heading into the season finale. A touchdown next week in Pittsburgh would allow the 23-year-old to tie his career high of eight set back in 2014.
Crowell carried the ball eight times for 28 yards during Sunday's 33-13 loss to the Bills. A week after rushing for over 100 yards, Crowell's touches were limited, as Cleveland found itself down early. He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, and for just the second time this season, the 23-year-old finished without a reception. With 746 rushing yards, Crowell is still aiming for his first 1000-yard season, but that will just be a pipe dream if he can't get enough touches in the final two weeks. He'll look to get back on track against the Chargers on Saturday.
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