Bill Callahan admitted Friday he doesn't spend much time thinking about his players' contracts and how their on-field performance might affect that aspect of their career.
That's because Callahan, who's been the Browns' offensive line coach for two seasons and coached football for 43 years, is always heavily focused on the present — he doesn't worry about who will be on his roster next season, or even next week, for that matter. He's going to be the same coach for whoever is in his room, no matter their experience or salary.
"I don't read too much into that," Callahan said when discussing the offensive line market Friday with local reporters.
Callahan, however, was not surprised to learn this week that two of the best guards in his position group — and the entire league — had received extensions to stay in Cleveland for another four years.
Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller solidified their futures with the Browns on back-to-back days this week. Teller, the No. 2-ranked guard on Pro Football Focus, signed his deal Tuesday while Bitonio, the No. 3-ranked guard, signed his deal Wednesday.
Both players have drawn even more praise from teammates and coaches throughout the week, and both received even more from Callahan, one of the most well-regarded O-Line coaches in the league. Callahan often balances his praise with critique any time he discusses players in his room, but he didn't have much to critique when reflecting on the development he's seen from Bitonio and Teller over the last two years.
"Joel has been a solid player for years, and he's elevated his game another notch," Callahan said. "Wyatt has elevated his game … He's improved his footwork, he's improved the anchor and his strikes are a little bit different. He's really come along in a lot of ways."
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Much of that development — particularly for Teller, who broke out in a big way in 2020 and has maintained his growth through 2021 — is a credit to Callahan and assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters. Both coaches quickly earned the respect of the Browns offensive line when they joined head coach Kevin Stefanski's staff in 2020, a year that ended with the Browns touting the best O-Line in the league, and the success carried over into 2021.
Cleveland has led the NFL in most major team rushing categories for all of the season, and the Browns currently rank first in pass block win rate percentage (72 percent), according to ESPN.
"I got a full offseason with Coach Callahan a year ago and took a big stride in technique and fundamentals," Teller said. "He gets us working out there. I'm extremely thankful for his guidance and coaching."
For Bitonio, Callahan shared the hopes Executive VP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry and Browns legend Joe Thomas expressed earlier in the week about his future.
They all believe his career could end with a gold jacket. It's certainly trending that way after being selected to three Pro Bowls in the last three seasons. He's played up to a Pro Bowl level again in 2021, and there appears to be no signs of slowing down in future seasons, either.
His contract extension only affirmed that point even more.
"I think that's a great goal to have," Callahan said. "Performing at that high of a level year after year after year like Joel has makes you that type of candidate. I've been fortunate enough to be around a few guys like that, and he's certainly right up in there. I'm hopeful that he can reach that goal."
Callahan, though, knows both players must continue to focus on the present to continue to be great. It's how Callahan has managed to carve a long-lasting career as a coach, and after seeing how Teller and Bitonio have continued to be great by taking the similar approach, he's pleased to see the Browns pay a significant investment in both of their futures.
"I've been fortunate enough to be around a lot of good, good guys, good lines and organizations that really value that aspect of the offense," he said. "Everything starts up front, so know that that makes total sense to me."