Here’s what it would cost the Browns to extend linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s contract

When Jeremiah Owusu-Kramoah entered the NFL Draft, the general consensus labeled him as a first round talent with a concerning lack of size for the linebacker position. He was revered for his versatility and instincts at Notre Dame, a player constantly in position to make impactful plays for his defense, and often getting the ball back in his offense’s hands. However, like a smaller Isaiah Simmons, he almost felt positionless as his 6-1’’ 221 pound build and proficient coverage skills suggested a switch to strong safety might mask his weakness engaging with blockers.

DENVER, COLORADO – NOVEMBER 26: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah #6 of the Cleveland Browns reacts during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns at Empower Field At Mile High on November 26, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

It wasn’t a shock when JOK fell to the 52nd pick of the draft; it simultaneously made sense for him to fall that far outside the first round because of his size, but also looked like an incredible value if he could just add some strength. In his first two years in the league, he missed nine games to injury and suffered from inconsistent play. After taking an intentional approach to gaining some mass and functional strength, JOK stayed healthy for the Browns all season in 2023 and improved in almost every facet of his game.

With his inconsistent and oft-injured first two seasons of play and quick ascension in his third year, it’ll be hard to find comparables when his agent approaches the Browns for an extension. Both sides might be interested in locking in a relatively team-friendly deal that gives JOK some short-term financial security and a chance to hit the market again soon.

Here are players that have signed recent deals that set up brackets for where negotiations will take place, and their stats in the three years leading up to their extensions (stats are provided by Pro Football Reference, missed tackle percentage provided by PFF):

The nine missed games for the first two years of JOK’s career hinder his tackle count, but he still leads the group with the highest tackles-for-loss. His pass break-ups ranks second on the list, and even though he has the lowest interception count, it’s right in there with Patrick Queen and Bobby Okereke.

To try and get a better idea of JOK’s current trajectory and value given his breakthrough season, let’s isolate each players’ platform year and see where he ranks. We also added in missed tackle percentage from PFF to check if that was a key contributor to his lower tackle count.

This paints a bigger picture for the player JOK has developed into, relative to his peers.

His tackles-for-loss last season wasn’t just best amongst this group, it was best amongst all off-ball linebackers. Despite still being smaller, he’s reading play design and blocking schemes quickly enough to beat lineman to their assignments and running backs to their gaps. He remains impactful against the pass and adds a wrinkle to his game with some pass rush ability, though it’s not his calling card.

While his missed tackles are on the higher end, it’s less than Patrick Queen’s percentage, who surprisingly is his closest comparable on this list:

If JOK had more seasons of consistent play, we’d see him valued closely to Patrick Queen’s percentage of cap valuation. The NFL is hesitant to pay for players after a one-year breakout performance, but his recent breakout shows he deserves placement amongst these contracts.

A two year deal would make the most sense for both parties if the Browns hadn’t leveraged themselves so heavily in void money to make a Super Bowl push with Deshaun Watson on the roster. They have eight players scheduled to hit free agency in 2026 with over $100,000,000 in accelerated dead cap from void years. To retain JOK, they’ll likely need to sign him to a three year deal that is heavily back-loaded, uses an option bonus, and continues the void cap trend.

On a two-year deal, the Browns may have been able to point to the lower end of the bracket established by Oluokun, Queen, and Okereke, with JOK giving up the higher APY for a chance to hit free agency sooner. Two years of play similar to his 2023 season and continued improvement in the passing game would ascend JOK’s market within the top-tier of linebackers. With the Browns forced into a three-year deal because of their current cap liabilities, JOK can push off of Okereke’s and closer to Queen’s. Since Queen hit the open market with a first round pedigree and more established career up to this point, the Browns have a clear ceiling that JOK’s leverage shouldn’t break. Sliding in at a $13 million APY on a three year deal should be seen as a win by all sides.

The contract below suggests a 5.09% cap share valuation, spreading out both a $10,000,000 signing bonus and $14,500,000 guaranteed option bonus in 2026 to the maximum five years each. By guaranteeing the first two years of minimal base salaries, that puts JOK at $26,825,000 in fully-guaranteed money. It’s a punitive percentage against his $39,000,000 contract, but a necessary concession for keeping an ascending player in his prime a year further removed from his next negotiation.

Final Contract Projection: 3 Years, $39,000,000, $26,825,000 fully guaranteed

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