With training camp set to get underway this week, the Cleveland Browns have finally come to terms with first-round pick Justin Gilbert. The cornerback, who was selected with the eighth overall pick, agreed to a four-year contract.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN broke the news and pointed out that only one rookie from the 2014 draft remains without a rookie deal:
1st rounder Justin Gilbert agrees to terms with Browns, per sources. Only one rookie, Taylor Lewan (Titans), remains unsigned.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) July 23, 2014
Michael Ginnitti of Spotrac provided further details about the agreement:
The Browns originally held the fourth overall pick, but made a deal with the Buffalo Bills to move down to No. 9 before jumping back up one spot to secure Gilbert. The hope is that he can pair with fellow corner Joe Haden to lock down the outsides.
Gilbert generated a lot of hype leading up to the draft thanks to an impressive combination of size, speed and athleticism. After watching what the Seattle Seahawks were able to do with a secondary filled with those type of players, it was easy to see why the Oklahoma State product was coveted.
Getting him signed before camp got underway was key for the Browns. Last month, the defensive back told Fred Greetham of Fox Sports Ohio that he wasn't sure the deal would get done: "I have no idea. They're still working on it."
Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reported there were issues with the offset language:
“@tim_luki: what's the delay with Gilbert? Isn't he one of like three not to have signed in the entire league?”// Offset language.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) June 27, 2014
Apparently all of the sticking points were smoothed over, which will allow Gilbert to hit the field with his new teammates on time.
Who do you think will start opposite Haden at CB?
He's not guaranteed a starting spot. Buster Skrine is coming off a season with 65 total tackles, 18 passes defended and an interception. He will likely push Gilbert, especially early in the preseason as the first-year player gets acclimated with the speed of the NFL game.
That said, the Browns wouldn't have invested a top-10 pick unless they thought he could make an immediate impact. The ideal scenario would see Gilbert win the starting job opposite Haden with Skrine pushing inside to serve as a top slot corner.
It's something that will get sorted out in the weeks ahead, and it's a good problem for the team to have. For now, the Browns can be satisfied they got a deal done before one of their prized rookies started missing camp time.