Remember the 2011 NFL draft? It appeared to be a glorious day, but it quickly turned awry. A.J. Green’s name was called sooner than I hoped, by our interstate rival Cincinnati Bengals with the fourth pick. No immense deal, there is still another playmaker the majority of teams drooled over. Arizona broke numerous Clevelanders hearts when they selected Patrick Peterson.
Cleveland sat at number six, Julio Jones seemed like the obvious choice, so what did they do? The Browns traded draft picks with the Atlanta Falcons. They took Jones with the sixth pick and Cleveland moved down to the 21st spot. The Browns invested in Phil Taylor, who has proved to be a reliable workhorse.
Needless to say, three years later, the Cleveland Browns have solidified their defensive line for at least two more years, when they exercised Phil Taylor’s fifth year option. The nose tackles, four year contract is worth $8 million total, but will receive an additional $5.5 million for the 2015 campaign. It is a reasonable price, heck it is even a steal, considering the impact Taylor can produce in a game.
Over his three year career, Taylor has appeared in 39 games, starting 38 of them, while compiling 130 tackles, seven sacks, two passes deflected, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Last year alone the 26 year old achieved 57 tackles, two sacks, and get this, Taylor only was on the field for 50.5% of the defensive snaps.
With that in mind, Pettine is clearly pleased with Taylor’s performance and will probably play the nose tackle more than half the game. More playing time should translate into more production. An increased role ensures Phil Taylor’s growth and maturation, not as just a human, but as a football player. Correspondingly, exercising his fifth year option is a no-brainer.
Not to mention, none of the money is guaranteed in a worst case scenario, such as an injury. Cleveland could release him with no penalty, but obviously we will retain him and hopefully extended him long term. Clearly, Taylor wants to stay in Cleveland for his career. The Baylor alum, as well as others, Joe Haden for example, has stated his desire to contribute to turn this franchise around.
The 2014 off season has been more productive than Cleveland has witnessed in a long time. Browns fans should be gratified with the transactions and acquisitions the new regime has pulled the trigger on. Hopefully, this is a sign of a great future to come.
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