Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett close to deal that would make him NFL’s highest-paid defensive player

The Cleveland Browns are making Myles Garrett the NFL’s best-compensated defensive player.

The 24-year-old pass rusher is close to signing a five-year, $125 million extension that will tie him to the franchise through the 2026 season, a person familiar with negotiations confirmed to USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Ulrich. The person requested anonymity because the new deal had not yet been finalized.

Garrett will average $25 million annually once the extension kicks in, a figure that would surpass Chicago Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack, whose current intake per season is $23.5 million.

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It’s the league’s latest landmark deal in a year when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed an extension that could ultimately pay him more than a half-billion dollars over the life of the deal. Earlier in 2020, Carolina Panthers all-pro Christian McCaffrey reset the running back pay scale with a four-year, $64 million extension.

And yet many other players are standing by, struggling to negotiate new deals at a time when teams generally seem reluctant to grant them given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it might affect league revenue and future salary caps.

The Cleveland Browns made DE Myles Garrett the top pick of the 2017 NFL draft.

For Garrett, it’s quite a turn of events.

He was suspended for the final six games of the 2019 season and fined $50,000 after ripping the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and striking him with it at the end of a 21-7 Cleveland win on Nov. 14. Garrett later suggested Rudolph provoked him by uttering a racial slur, a charge the quarterback vigorously denied.

Rudolph, the top pick of the 2017 NFL draft out of Texas A, was reinstated in February.

He was headed toward his second Pro Bowl season in 2019 before the suspension derailed his campaign. He has 30½ sacks since entering the league – the most ever collected by a Browns player in his first three seasons – and has reached double digits the past two years. Garrett has 65 quarterback hits in his young career.

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Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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