The Cleveland Browns continue to lock down critical pieces of their offensive line.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the Browns signed guard Joel Bitonio to a three-year contract extension worth roughly $48 million, per sources informed of the pact. The extension includes a boost for the 17th game this year and next year, Rapoport added.
The team later announced the extension. He's now under contract through the 2025 season.
"I've been here for eight years now and seen a lot of ups and downs. To be part of that and for the team to have faith in me and allow me to be here for my entire career, it really means a lot. It's special," Bitonio said in a statement. "You see guys switch teams a lot and go from team to team, great players in this league. I saw Joe Thomas end his career here. It's something when you get into Year 8 and Year 9, it gets in the back of your mind where it'd be really special to be in Cleveland your whole career and try to win a championship with these guys.
"I just want to thank the Haslams, Andrew Berry and Coach (Kevin) Stefanski for having faith in me and providing me with this opportunity."
"I've got a lot of good friends on the O-line, and it's guys who work hard and love the game of football and are passionate about the Cleveland Browns," Bitonio said. "We want to run the ball, we want to protect Baker (Mayfield) and take our shots down field. There's sometimes a lack of good linemen in the league, so to get five, six, seven good ones on a team, it's really nice to have that depth and hopefully we can keep the guys together for as many years as possible."
With three straight Pro Bowls under his belt, Bitonio is one of the best overall guards in the NFL. A rugged road grader and superb pass blocker who can handle defensive tackles in one-on-ones, Bitonio is a key reason the Browns' run and screen games are among the best in the NFL.
After negotiating Odell Beckham's release earlier this week to save some money, Berry turned around and handed out new deals to two cornerstones of the Browns offensive line.
Locking up Bitonio and Teller ensures that the Browns' potent run game, and the stability of their offense, won't be threatened by free agency anytime soon.
"After last season, we decided that one of our major football priorities would be to make Joel Bitonio a Brown for the rest of his career," Berry said in a statement. "Joel is one of our most decorated players and is the ideal personification of our 'Tough, Smart, Accountable' mantra. We value Joel's high-level performance, leadership, consistency and durability.
"We are all excited about this extension and hopeful that at the end of his career we will all be looking forward to celebrating Joel's gold jacket fitting in Canton."