Should extending Wyatt Teller be the Browns immediate priority?

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The calendar has finally turned to July which means training camps will open this month. The Cleveland Browns have a lot of lingering long-term contract storylines but should extending Wyatt Teller be their most immediate priority?

Teller had a breakout season in 2020 under Kevin Stefanski, Alex Van Pelt and Bill Callahan. The Browns wide-zone scheme allowed Teller to showcase his movement skills and had many calling him one of the best guards in the NFL by the end of the season.

The Browns have a few starters about to reach free agency along with Teller after the 2021 season. Nick Chubb is the biggest name while Ronnie Harrison’s addition last year helped hold the defense together at times. Adding to that is the contracts of Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward, among others, that expire after the 2022 season.

As for Teller, the former Virginia Tech Hokie has had an interesting career in the NFL so far. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He played eight games for the Bills that season before being dealt the following offseason to the Browns.

In 2019, Teller fared well enough to play in 15 games but wasn’t overly impressive. Then again, very few of the Browns offensive players had good seasons under Freddie Kitchens.

Pro Football Focus graded Teller at 56.7 that season but last year, in only 11 games, that grade shot up to 92.3 with an impressive 93.6 run-blocking grade. His overall and run-blocking grades were top among guards in 2020.

ESPN (subscriber, $) noted a Teller extension as the team’s “one move to make before training camp”:

One of the NFL’s breakout stars of 2020 is now just one season away from being an unrestricted free agent and has emerged as a foundational piece of Cleveland’s future. Pricing out an extension for Teller won’t be a thrifty investment by the Browns, but this franchise has learned the value of paying big along the offensive line. There’s a case for Cleveland’s starting five as the best in football.

Teller isn’t the only free-agent to-be the Browns have this season, though. Running back Nick Chubb is also on the last year of his deal. Getting a deal done with one of Teller or Chubb leaves the franchise tag available for the other.

Noting Chubb’s contract situation and the ability to use the franchise tag is interesting given the value of running backs. One could argue that getting an extension with the team’s franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield, could be an even bigger statement move.

Noting how important Teller was to the Browns game can be difficult given the variables but he missed six games (five full and most of another) which led to this split:

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A former fifth-round pick traded for a fifth-round pick (plus late-round picks exchanged) could not be in line to get a huge extension but should he be the team’s most immediate priority?