Report: Carlos Hyde to Sign 3-Year Browns Contract Worth More Than $15 Million

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 31: Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 31, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The 49ers defeated the Rams 34-13. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Veteran running back Carlos Hyde reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns ahead of the official opening of free agency at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.     

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the contract is worth more than $15 million, and it will pay Hyde $6 million in the first year.

The 2017 season was equal parts encouraging and discouraging for Hyde with the San Francisco 49ers.

He played a full 16-game season for the first time in his NFL career, and his 59 receptions and 350 receiving yards were more than he had posted in his previous three years combined (50 receptions for 284 yards). That helped him gain a career-high 1,288 yards from scrimmage.

Hyde's production on the ground took a step backward, though. Despite appearing in three more games, he ran for fewer yards in 2017 (938) than he did in 2016 (988). His 3.9 yards per carry were a career low and ranked 26th.

Among the 47 running backs with at least 100 carries, Hyde was 32nd in defense-adjusted yards above replacement, according to Football Outsiders. 

And while the 49ers offensive line had been dreadful in recent years, the unit ranked 11th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders, so Hyde couldn't blame poor blocking for his regression.

Expectations were high for Hyde based on how much success new head coach Kyle Shanahan had with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman when he was the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator. Freeman was a Pro Bowler in 2015 and 2016.

Beyond Hyde's jump in receiving numbers, Shanahan's presence didn't have a major impact on his performance.

Hyde will also turn 28 in September, so it's fair to wonder how much better he can be than the player he was the past two campaigns. He's worthy of being a team's primary ball-carrier, but he may not rise to the level of a Pro Bowl running back.

Throw in the fact the Niners have Matt Breida and Joe Williams—a fourth-round draft pick who had a season-ending ankle injury as a rookie—and it's little surprise the team opted against re-signing Hyde.

Whereas San Francisco shouldn't regret letting Hyde go, he should serve an important role in Cleveland's backfield, and he was one of the best upgrades the Browns could've made to their running game in free agency.

Hyde's arrival may spell the end of Isaiah Crowell's tenure with the Browns, and it creates some question about whether Cleveland will pursue Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 1 or No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft since it now has Hyde and Duke Johnson as a backfield tandem.

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