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Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller extensions 'points to our identity'

The Browns made two big strides toward long-term success this week by solidifying two key pieces of their interior offensive line

The Browns have developed and benefitted from having two of the best guards in the NFL in 2021, and they spent this week ensuring both of them would stay in Cleveland through 2025.

Wyatt Teller, the No. 2-ranked guard this season according to Pro Football Focus, signed a four-year contract extension Tuesday. Joel Bitonio, the No. 3-ranked guard, signed a three-year extension — which is added to the previous extension he received in 2017 — on Wednesday. 

The news comes as no surprise to anyone who's seen the work both have delivered in the trenches. From punishing pull blocks that open gaping holes in the run game to consistent pass protection for QB Baker Mayfield, both have been tremendous weapons to the success the Browns have built in the last two seasons.

"I think it just points to our identity," Bitonio said. "We want to be a team that wins in the trenches. I think Wyatt and myself give us a versatile ability. To have two guards that can pull either way … really gives us an opportunity as an offense to be multiple."

The Browns announced Wednesday that Joel Bitonio has signed a contract extension through the 2025 season. Bitonio, the longest-tenured member of the Browns, is a three-time (2018-20) Pro Bowl selection and the first Browns guard to be named to three consecutive Pro Bowls since Pro Football Hall of Famer Gene Hickerson made six straight from 1966-71.

No team in football has a guard duo as efficient and consistent as Teller and Bitonio, who have helped the Browns establish arguably the top rushing attack in the NFL since Teller joined the O-Line as a starter in Week 9 of 2019. 

Since that time, the Browns rank third in the NFL with an average of 142.3 rushing yards per game and third in the league with an average of 4.82 yards per carry. So far in 2021, they lead the NFL in rushing yards (1,442), rushing average (5.28), rushing touchdowns (16) and rushes of 10-plus yards (46).

That success, of course, was also made possible by the work of running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Both are set to be in Cleveland through 2022 and received recent extensions, too, exemplifying just how much the Browns value a strong run game.

But for nearly every long run Chubb or Hunt have found, Teller and Bitonio have been in the picture, delivering jaw-dropping blocks and showcasing elite footwork and sheer strength. 

Both linemen have received loads of recognition from teammates, coaches and fans for their work, and their extensions are one more token of appreciation.

"I'm thankful for the fans of Cleveland," Teller said. "Offensive linemen are loved. They're glorified here. It's just a special city."

The Browns announced Tuesday that Wyatt Teller has signed a contract extension through the 2025 season. Teller took over as the team's starting right guard in Week 9 in 2019 and has played a major role in helping the Browns build one of the best run games in the league ever since.

For Bitonio, his streak as the longest tenured member of the Browns is set to continue for another four years. A second-round pick in 2014, Bitonio has exemplified the relentless spirit the franchise has needed to escape the struggles prevalent throughout an 18-year playoff drought, which ended with the help of his third consecutive Pro Bowl season in 2020.

Bitonio's unwavering positivity and ability to always look forward has permeated throughout his teammates in the locker room every season since he was a rookie. It's made him a fan-favorite in Northeast Ohio, too, and is one of the reasons why the Browns didn't hesitate to ensure Bitonio had a chance to finish his NFL career with the team that drafted him.

"It's pretty special," Bitonio said. "You look around the league, and there's great players that play on multiple teams, three or four teams. It's such a tough business to stick with one team because you have so many different coaching staffs and things that happened, but it's truly an honor to finish my career here and hopefully it sets up that way.

"I don't know anything else. I just know the Cleveland Browns way, and that's how I want to finish it. I think we do have something special here."

The work isn't over, but the Browns took a major step this week toward ensuring the success they've built won't be going away anytime soon. 

Cleveland views Bitonio and Teller as cornerstone pieces toward long-term success, and both are ready to keep excelling and working toward making the Browns an even better football team.

"When you get good players in this league, you want to keep them," Bitonio said. "That's been a thing you see with our last few extensions, and I'm proud to be a part of that group. Hopefully we can continue to build this thing."

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