Myles Garrett could be the best defensive player in the NFL today. If you don’t believe that, trust that at least the Cleveland Browns do as they signed the 24-year-old edge rusher to a five-year, $125 million contract with $50 million fully guaranteed on Tuesday.
The current best defensive player in the NFL, Aaron Donald, just got moved down the AAV list.
Details on the extension for the #Browns and Myles Garrett: In his rather large 5-year, $125M extension, there are $100M in total guarantees and $50M fully guaranteed at signing. He’s now under contract 2026. https://t.co/873RKFYdbk— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2020
Garrett’s new deal pays him $25 million per year. In 2018, Donald signed a six-year, $125 million contract with the LA Rams, also with $50 million guaranteed.
Khalil Mack has the highest AAV for a defensive player at $23.5 million, so Donald now ranks third for all defensive players.
At that time, Donald had made each of the last three first team All-Pro rosters as a defensive lineman and was the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Rather than get complacent, Donald returned in 2018 to post 20.5 sacks and win the DPOY award for a second time.
Garrett has been a really productive pass rusher since coming into the league as the number one overall pick in 2017, though he’s not been anywhere near Donald. That’s in large part due to the fact that Garrett missed five games as a rookie with injury and six games in 2019 because of the suspension that occurred after the Mason Rudolph incident.
He has 30.5 sacks in 37 career games.
Just to continue with the context, Donald has 33 sacks over his last 32 games. In that last two years, Donald also has more tackles for a loss and the same number of QB hits as Garrett has in his entire three-year career. But contracts are not written out and negotiated based on how one single player is valued in relation to the contract signee; Garrett is perhaps Cleveland’s most valuable asset and he wanted to be paid a lot. He was rewarded with the same full guarantee and more in “other” guarantees.
Donald does get to be a free agent again sooner (2025) than Garrett (2026) however.