At a time when teams are finalizing deals for 2017 free agents, the Browns have ensured that one of their offensive linemen won’t be a 2018 free agent.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Browns are signing guard Joel Bitonio to a “monster” extension.
It’s a surprise, for a few reasons. First, he only became eligible for a second contract upon conclusion of the 2016 regular season. Second, he has missed 17 of 32 games over the past two years due to injury. Third, the move shifts the injury risk for 2017 to the Browns.
Bitonio is a rare, if not the first, member of the 2014 draft class to sign a new contract. His success helps make up for the failed pair of first-round picks that were used on cornerback Justin Gilbert and quarterback Johnny Manziel.