Crowell should benefit from the upgrades the Browns made to their offensive line this offseason, as well as the defense's expected ability to keep the score of games closer, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports.
Crowell totaled 952 rushing yards despite getting just 198 carries last season. For reference, 19 players were handed the ball more times, yet only eight qualified tailbacks topped his 4.8 yards per rush. While Crowell enjoyed running behind the dominant left-sided duo of Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio, the Browns fortified elsewhere up front by signing center JC Tretter and making Kevin Zeitler the highest-paid guard in the NFL this offseason. That improved blocking quality, along with a more competitive Browns defense, figures to allow the team to rely on the running game more, which should only help Crowell's quest for his first 1,000-yard campaign.
Crowell signed a restricted free-agent tender this offseason, which will make him an unrestricted free agent in March of 2018. However, if he's able to build on his 952 rushing yards from last season, the 24-year-old could find himself in Cleveland for years to come. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson seems confident that 2017 will be Crowell's best year yet, "He's not even in his prime yet. He has to continue to work hard. He saw what happened last year - when you work extremely hard, good things happen for you. I think he enjoyed limited success, and he's hungry and eager and looking for even more this season." Factoring in the Browns' offensive line additions of Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter, Crowell's payday could be right around the corner.
Crowell, who was absent from previous voluntary workouts throughout the offseason, participated in the Browns' first organized team activity on Tuesday, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.
Crowell signed his restricted free-agent tender in May, but there were still questions as to whether he would wait until June's mandatory minicamp to report. The 24-year-old has a firm grasp on the starting job at running back in Cleveland, while joining the team for OTAs boosts his standing with the coaching staff.
Despite signing his restricted free agent tender, Crowell may wait to report until mandatory minicamp in June, ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi reports.
Although the window to sign offer sheets expired three weeks ago, Crowell didn't sign his tender with the Browns until Wednesday, perhaps hinting at displeasure with the team's offers (or lack thereof) for a contract beyond 2017. Coming off a season in which he established career-high marks for carries (198), rushing yards (952), yards per carry (4.8), receptions (40) and receiving yards (319), the 24-year-old running back was probably hoping to either receive an extension from the Browns or an offer sheet from another team. He should at least have a nice opportunity to earn a multi-year contract in unrestricted free agency next offseason, as the Browns opted not to draft any running backs until the seventh round, leaving only Duke Johnson as viable competition for touches. The backfield duo was the only real bright spot in Cleveland's dreadful offense last season, with Johnson contributing 73 rushes for 358 yards (4.9 YPC) and catching 53 of 72 targets for 514 yards -- which gave him and Crowell a combined total of 2,143 scrimmage yards. Crowell's absence from voluntary workouts shouldn't impact his standing atop the depth chart,.
Coming off a season in which he set career highs in nearly every significant rushing statistic, Crowell was hesitant to sign his contract tender with the Browns this offseason, presumably in an attempt to land a long-term deal. However, his decision to sign has officially silenced any threats of a potential hold-out and locks the fourth-year running back into the No. 1 slot on the depth chart as the 2017 season approaches.
|P3||8/26/17||@ TB||7:30 pm|
|P4||8/31/17||@ CHI||8:00 pm|
|2||9/17/17||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|3||9/24/17||@ IND||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ HOU||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/12/17||@ DET||1:00 pm|
|12||11/26/17||@ CIN||1:00 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ LAC||4:05 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|17||12/31/17||@ PIT||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|