The Cleveland Browns have signed defensive end Myles Garrett to a long-term extension, the team announced in a press release. Garrett wrote "Cleveland keep betting on me, World keep betting against us" on a sheet of paper presumably after signing the five-year deal worth $125 million reported by NFL Media's Ian Rapoport Tuesday.. The deal includes $50 million fully guaranteed at signing and $100 million in total guarantees. Rapoport adds that there are still a few small hurdles to clear before this deal becomes official.
Executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry confirmed the deal and spoke to the pass rusher's importance to the franchise.
"One of our fundamental organizational beliefs is identifying young players on our roster and proactively retaining them as part of our present and future core," Berry said. "We go through great lengths to select players whose make-up and performance embody the characteristics we are looking for within our team. Today, we're delighted that Myles Garrett will be a Cleveland Brown for many years to come. Myles' rare physical gifts in conjunction with his work ethic, intellect and humility have been the catalysts behind an auspicious start to his young career. Despite his early individual successes, Myles maintains the same drive toward greatness that he displayed as a 22-year old rookie. We firmly believe that this intense focus means the best is yet to come."
Garrett spoke to how Browns fans immediately welcomed him as one of their own.
"In 2017, the Cleveland Browns bet on me," Garrett said. "This city quickly became my home and these people quickly became my family. I'm eternally grateful for this opportunity, the support of my friends and family, the organization, my teammates, the fans -- I could go on forever, but even that wouldn't be enough time to express my gratitude. I'll just say this: Keep betting on me, Cleveland, because I won't let you down. Now, let's get to work."
Based on the average annual salary, the Texas A&M product becomes the highest-paid defender in the NFL. He eclipses Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack, who was earning $23.5 million annually. Garrett had two years remaining on his rookie contract, including the fifth-year option. He will earn roughly $19.8 million over that time period before the new deal takes effect.
Garrett, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, had 29 tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles in 10 games last season. Despite missing 11 games, the Texas native has managed to compile 30.5 sacks and six forced fumbles throughout his career. His year came to a disturbing end when fans saw him swing a helmet at the head of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in primetime. Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated the pass rusher in February.
Berry acknowledged the incident in the aforementioned press release and claims that the Texas native has atoned for his mistake.
"It would be remiss of me not to address the fact that we are choosing to do this after a season during which Myles was suspended," Berry said. "Myles has been accountable for his mistake and we view the incident as well out of character. We don't believe one moment should define him based on how he has handled himself prior to and in the months after last year's incident. We are excited to ensure that Myles will stay in Cleveland for the foreseeable future."
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods believes that Garrett is in the right frame of mind to bounce back this season.
"I think Myles has the right mindset in terms of wanting to be MVP and all of that, but we just need him to be the best payer for us that he can be, and whatever happens, happens. Right now, I think he is in a good place," Woods told media over a conference call in May. "I think as a young player in this league, you go through a lot of different things so I definitely think he is going to learn and grow from the situation that happened last year. We really have not talked about it after he got back and after he was reinstated. He is focused on getting better. He is focused on being a good teammate. He has been in the meetings. He is trying to step up and take more of a leadership role. I definitely think he is moving in the right direction and has the right mindset."
The Pro Bowl edge rusher was averaging a sack per game last season before his suspension. If he had continued at that pace, he would have been in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, which was won by Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.