Nick Chubb Projected to Miss More Than Half of Browns’ Season

The Cleveland Browns are going to get running back Nick Chubb back during the 2024 campaign. The prevalent question is when?

Chubb tore up his knee in Week 2 of last season, an injury that required multiple surgeries to repair and which is likely to prevent him from starting the upcoming year in Cleveland’s backfield. Projections of when the four-time Pro Bowler might return have varied, though Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report is less optimistic than some.

Knox predicted on Friday, May 10, that Chubb will start just eight of 17 regular-season contests for the Browns — meaning he will miss more than half of the year for a playoff team angling to make a deeper run next time around.

Cleveland has a good amount of backfield depth after adding D’Onta Foreman and Nyheim Hines to a room that already included Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr. Ford replaced Chubb as the starter last season and tallied 1,132 scrimmage yards.

Chubb may not be ready to go at the start of the regular season, and the Browns probably won’t thrust him into the every-down role once he is ready to play. In the past, head coach Kevin Stefnaski has rarely overworked Chubb, who has topped 300 carries only once as a pro. Expect Chubb to be a part-time player in 2024, though he should still be able to make a late-season impact.

Knox’s official prediction for Chubb is eight starts, 749 rushing yards, 16 catches for 131 receiving yards and 7 total TDs.

Browns Won’t Rush Nick Chubb Back, Will Rely on Jerome Ford

Dalvin Cook would join a Browns backfield headlined by Jerome Ford.

Stefanski was non-committal on a return timetable for Chubb when speaking with reporters in mid-April, offering credence to the notion that the Browns won’t rush Chubb back into the fray.

“I can promise you he’s working very hard early in the morning,” Stefanski said, per Kelsey Russo of “He’s here. He’s attacking his rehab. That’s the best way I can put it. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready.”

The month prior, general manager Andrew Berry said something similar.

“I think that as we think about it, until we see him in the next couple months, I think the next — call it three months — will be pretty telling in terms of his potential readiness for early in the season,” Berry said on March 29, per Kevin Patra of “We are going to be conservative in terms of our approach in our assessment with building the roster because he is coming off of a major knee injury. But I do have to give him a lot of credit. He’s done a really, really nice job.”

Nick Chubb’s Future in Cleveland Remains Question Mark After Reworking Contract

Browns RB Nick Chubb has been working relentlessly during his rehab.

Chubb has incentive to get back as quickly as possible after agreeing to rework the final season of his three-year deal, which was worth $36.6 million in total when he signed it in July 2021. Chubb will now earn $2.275 million in 2024, with just $2.05 million guaranteed, though he can make much of what he gave back through performance-based incentives, per Zac Jackson of The Athletic.

No injury like the one Chubb sustained can come at a good time, though his arrived at perhaps exactly the wrong moment in terms of its financial implications on his future. If Chubb starts only eight contests, as Knox projected, his chances to earn his money back by stacking stats will decrease dramatically.

Chubb turns 29 years old in December, and in Knox’s scenario the running back will have less than half of a season to prove his worth to Cleveland and other potential suitors around the NFL before hitting unrestricted free agency in March 2025.

Despite how good Chubb has been over the course of his career — 6,511 rushing yards and 48 TDs across 77 games played — his age, recent injury history and the tread on his proverbial tires will all work against him on the open market. That Chubb plays the running back position, which the league has progressively devalued over recent years, won’t help his cause either.

There is no level of certainty that Ford will replace Chubb as the Browns’ starting running back for good, even if he begins the season in that role. However, circumstances appear currently to be collaborating toward that end — a tough pill to swallow for a player who was arguably the best at his position for a five-year run between 2018-22.

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