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Browns GM Andrew Berry anticipating 'next time that Nick Chubb runs out of that tunnel'

Nick Chubb's agreement to a restructured contract seemed to signal a drop in confidence he'd return as the same star who has powered Cleveland's offense over the last five years.

On the other hand, the adjusted deal meant Chubb was no longer a cut candidate in order to clear salary cap space. Although Chubb now has to earn some of his previously guaranteed salary via his performance, it seems as if both parties are pleased with the outcome.

General manager Andrew Berry expressed gratitude for the collaboration of Chubb's representation when speaking with reporters Thursday.

"Yeah, I won't comment in detail on the contract, other than to say that I think that whenever you go through a situation like that, I think people think it's easy for a club, an agent, to be adversarial," Berry said. "And, you know, with Nick's situation, I really applaud Nick and then his reps, Todd France and A.J. Stevens, for being really collaborative partners and finding a solution that worked for everybody.

"You know, I think everybody in this room is happy that Nick is back as a Cleveland Brown and we're very optimistic that he's going to crush the rehab."

Chubb's significant knee injury suffered in Week 2 ended his 2023 campaign after less than two games. The Browns quickly learned how valuable he was to their operation, and were forced to rely on a pieced-together backfield comprised of second-year back Jerome Ford, speedster Pierre Strong and familiar face Kareem Hunt, who returned to the Browns following Chubb's injury.

Since then, Berry's group has acted as if it won't be caught shorthanded again, adding Nyheim Hines and D'Onta Foreman, stocking the depth chart with six running backs, including Chubb.

Despite expressing satisfaction with the group's effort minus Chubb last season, Berry's actions tell the truth. And when combined with Chubb's adjusted contract, Browns fans found themselves with legitimate reason to believe they might never see the same Chubb again.

That would be jumping to conclusions, though. It's always a quality front office's goal to establish competitive depth. The Browns certainly haven't rested on their laurels this time around.

"Depth is important at every position, we were really pleased with that room last year," Berry said. "I thought Jerome and Pierre in particular, you know, did an incredible job filling in last year, and then obviously we had Kareem (Hunt) in those high leverage and short yardage moments. But Jerome and Pierre, they got obviously a lot of time and a lot of reps last year and feel very good about their skillset. We've added a couple of guys to that room with differing skill sets that can complement those guys, but we think we're in a pretty strong spot."

If Chubb can return at some point in the first half of the season and regain the form that saw him rank among the NFL's elite at the position over the last five years, they'll undoubtedly be strong at the position. That's uncertain, though, until Chubb suits up -- and even as Berry said Chubb is "going at a good pace" in his rehab, it's clear he still has a ways to go before he reaches that point.

When that happens, though, make sure you're sitting down.

"So, our VP of football administration, Chris Cooper ... after we got the deal done with Nick, he was like, 'I'll be honest, one of the coolest moments that I'm probably looking forward to the most, and may be at the top, is the next time that Nick Chubb runs out of that tunnel right before a game at Cleveland Brown Stadium,'" Berry said. "And I think Chris's sentiments probably speak for a lot of people in this room and a lot of people in the fan base."

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