BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell chose to sign his one-year restricted free agent tender and not miss time while trying to seek a new contract.
Instead, Crowell had one thing on his mind, earning a new deal with his play on the field, and thus far, he has carried that chip on his shoulder through the first two-plus weeks of training camp and the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints at FirstEnergy Stadium last Thursday night.
“I know what type of player I am, what caliber of player I am,” Crowell said prior to a recent practice.
“I’m going to go out there and just try to prove it to everybody, so that’s the main thing I can do is just work hard and just really try to help my team get some wins. That’s the main thing. I’m just going to try to do my thing to the best of my ability.”
Last year, Crowell rushed for 952 yards and seven touchdowns on 198 carries over 16 games for a Browns team that saw six players take snaps at quarterback because of injuries and ineffective play. Also, Crowell caught 40 passes for 319 yards and 14 first downs.
An undrafted free agent out of Alabama State University, Crowell’s 2016 rushing yards, carries and catches totals, as well as rushing and receiving first downs were single-season career highs.
“I feel like it’s a constant battle,” Crowell said. “Each year, I had to prove myself how good of a player I am, but I’m used to it. It’s not a big deal. It is what it is.
“I feel like it’s time for that to change, and that’s why I’m just trying to go out here and prove myself, just each and every play when I’m out there on the field, so that won’t be the case.”
Crowell’s value to a franchise will be judged at a unique time for running backs.
After years of devaluation, the running back position could be on the rise once again, as Atlanta Falcons rusher Devonta Freeman recently agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a total of $41.25 million, including $22 million in guaranteed money.
“I feel like it’s great for him,” Crowell said. “I feel like he’s a great player and he deserves it. I feel like he changed the market. I feel like it’s a great deal for him, and I feel like it’s just a great deal for all the running backs who are out here right now that deserve to get paid, so I’m happy for him.”
For Crowell, the key going forward is remaining focused on the task at hand, rather than being distracted by the ongoing discussions between his representative, renowned agent Drew Rosenhaus, and the organization.
“I just feel like God controls everything, so I’m just trying to just be patient,” Crowell said. “I know my time is coming. I’m just being patient and just stay working and keep working hard and just trying to be the best I can be.”
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