On what it means that the Browns showed loyalty and faith in him by extending his contract now:
"We had always talked about doing something like this, even from my first year in the league, and they always had confidence in me and my abilities. Now, that is just confirmation of that with them giving me this extension. I am just going to do my best to make it worth it for them but make me, my friends and my family proud."
On if it bothers him that the event at the end of the Browns-Steelers game may hang over him for the rest of his career, regardless of what he does going forward:
"My life is much bigger than one moment. Me, the Browns and my teammates are going to look past that and go on to greater success. That will just be a small bump in the road."
On what specifically he needs to prove this year after how the 2019 season ended, given his recent comments:
"I feel like with some of the losses we had – I am talking about with my teammates and some of the guys who were out, including myself – we had a chance to make a run at the playoffs, and I had a chance to solidify myself as a top-two defensive player in the league and hopefully, not be considered No. 2. I have that to prove next year, and we have to show that this talent can come together, win some games and win big games."
On if there is more of a 'burning desire or hunger' to come back and prove himself after how last season ended:
"Absolutely. Everybody is wondering how I got to where I am with the extension – how is he doing, has he been working out, has he been slacking and what kind of mindset does he have coming back? I just want to prove myself and know what I have been doing to get ahead of the pack."
On questions as to whether or not he will be the same player and have the same passion for the game following how his 2019 season ended, as well as the expectations that come with being the highest-paid non-QB in the NFL:
"I do not want to be the same player I was last year; I want to be better in all aspects. Even on that trajectory, I was known to be in the (Defensive) Player of the Year conversation. I do not want to make it a conversation anymore. This next year, I want to ball out and win that award, but I want to take my team to the playoffs and even higher than that. That is all based on what we do as a team and how we can build chemistry with each other. I know it is kind of hard with COVID and getting in the building so we just have to work with what we have."
On how he is now better capable of handling potential chiding from fans and opponents following last year's events:
"That is just life. You have one mistake, and people are going to come after you. Mine just happened to be on national TV with millions watching. That is how it be for me. I am just going to keep on playing my game. I am not going to worry about what people say or what they do. If somebody comes at me, I walk away, put my hands up or whatever I do to nullify the situation. Again, it is just a bump in the road, and I know my teammates will have my back to deescalate and keep it straight to football."
On if it was hard to come to grips with the event after it occurred, given it was not in line with his personality:
"It was a reaction to a situation. Everybody's reaction is different to stimuli that they are given. I do not believe anything like that has happened before and it won't happen again. Have to be ready for that. Now that I have had something like that happen and it went the wrong way, it can only go right for me because now I am prepared."
On his reaction to being the highest paid defensive player in NFL history:
"Now, it is time to prove it. They have faith in me, and now, I have to give them a reason to have that faith."
On if pressure comes with his record contract, given it is larger than contracts for players like Rams DT Aaron Donald and Bears LB Khalil Mack:
"I already felt I was in their league, and now that they have put that banner on me that I am the highest paid, I have to insert myself as the top dog. I feel like I am confident and ready to do that."
On if the NFL has seen the best of Garrett on the field and if not, what is his potential:
"No, I feel like I can only get better, and you will see that next year. Can't talk it into existence. Just have to do it ourselves. Who we have on the D line, who we have acquired and the guys we have in the meeting room, I feel like the sky is the limit not only for me but for everybody."
On if his offseason training has been relatively normal, despite not being able to be in the team facility:
"Pretty similar. I was able to get a weight room installed into my house, a room to run, a room to do drills and work on bags, movement and hands. I have been doing pretty much everything I would be doing if I were in the building, except for sitting in a classroom and meeting with guys personally. Training wise, I have been able to get ahead because nothing has really changed for me. I am still working, still grinding and still trying to condition myself for whenever camp starts."
On if he had any reservations about staying with the Browns, given the team has not been successful in recent years:
"There was no reservation for me. I kind of like that the history is what it is because it will only make it so much sweeter when we turn this thing around and actually start winning big games, winning playoff games and finally getting to that last one. I would like to be a part of that. I would like to lead the pack for that. Whenever we do that, whether it starts this next year or however many years it takes, I want to lead Cleveland to that promised land."
On if he was aware of how long it has been since a first-round pick signed an extension in Cleveland and what it means to be the Browns' first of several young first-round selections who could sign extensions:
"I saw that statistic only this morning. It was a surprise to me, but I feel like it is the turning around here in Cleveland. I know there is a lot of young talent all over the board with us. I feel like this is (knocks on wood) starting this thing off right. However we can do it, whether it is offense or defense, keeping these guys here, we have talent to allow us to be good for a long time."
On if he feels like he needs to play differently to try to avoid being labeled as a dirty player and how he can prove he is not a dirty player while staying aggressive:
"I really think it is more media than anything that has placed that banner on me because more often than not, the players that I have played with and the guys I know, that is not who they see and not who they have experienced. They have never thought of me that way so I do not think I will be walking on eggshells when I am on the field, racking my brain about not trying to be a dirty player because I have never been that. Landing on the quarterback happens. That is just part of the game. Sometimes, you can't turn to the side, but that does not mean you are a dirty player. I am just doing my best to play within the rules and play to the best of my ability."
On if it bothers him that some people may still say he is a dirty player:
"The media is going to say whatever they want about me. 'I am what you say I am.' I am just going to play the game how I have always played it, and that is not dirty. However it seems, I want the respect of my family and friends and some of my peers. I respect those around me who I have grown up with, played with and where I have earned my respect. Other than that, whatever is said, that goes by the wayside."
On questions or concerns about COVID-19 and the season moving forward:
"I know we have been talking, the NFLPA and the NFL. We have all collectively been talking and trying to get safe protocols in place for us to get in the building on time and be able to have a couple preseason games, get it ramped up slowly for people who did not have as much access to facilities as others who are at home and were not able to get to some spots where they can work out. For us, it is being as efficient and safe as possible. We want to have larger groups in the facility, but we do not want to make it where guys are coming in, free agents are coming in and guys are coming in from other cities and other states at one time. We want to make sure that everybody is getting in but they also have a safe place to work, a safe place study, shower and do whatever you need so that you do not pass it off to your family, your loved ones, people you go visit or whoever it is. I would say it is more for the people around us who are not as fortunate as us. Most of us, we are healthy young men and will be able to shrug it off. As we have seen, it is mostly asymptomatic for us, but we do not want to pass it to someone it can affect and really put a hurt on them."
On his confidence level about having a season:
"I think it can be done. I think it will just have to be treated delicately and have to take each issue very seriously with each team. I know preseason will definitely be different, knowing not every team will have the same access as others and not every team will be able to bring as many players in because everybody has different sized facilities. It is just about trying to get everybody on a fair and level playing field so that when we get together, nobody is at a disadvantage."
On his posts on social media following the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, how he coped with the events from the past few months and if he was able to assist some of the families impacted as he stated he wanted to do on social media:
"I did. I did pay for the [David McAtee] funeral. The reason I reached out on social media to do that is because I wanted to get to the families, and that was the best way to do it. That was the best way I could get to multiple people around the situation and to get to the people who needed it. The work is not done. There are still things I am trying to do here in Cleveland and even back home in the DFW area (Dallas Forth-Worth) to improve the situations of the people I have grown up with and people who I know have been affected, and even those who I have not met and can't reach yet. It is just making it better for the young women and children, who are my age and under, who I want to see get out of situations that can turn into violence or keep this cycle perpetuated."
On if he believes the NFL needs to do more related to social justice:
"I feel like they should have a bigger voice. They have so much access to resources. They should be able to speak up. I believe Kap (free agent QB Colin Kaepernick) deserves an apology. I know it is one thing to stand behind us and supporting our efforts, but they should be standing beside us in what we are doing, seeing as there are a lot of players big and small in their stardom trying to do things for their hometowns, for where they play and just for areas that they know have been effected. I feel like they should be right there beside us trying to lead the charge."
On the families he was able to reach following his social media posts and their response:
"It was the chef who was shot outside his [restaurant], David McAtee. He was shot outside of his [restaurant]. He was cooking, and there was film of him going outside but not really enough of the situation to know what was going on. He was there with friends and family. He went outside to see what was going on, came back in and was shot there. I was very taken aback by something like that. I really wanted to reach out and help where I could. It was kind of about those stories that reached me personally and touched me on a deeper level – David McAtee, and the police chief [David Dorn], as well. [I reached out and wanted to pay for his funeral but could not find a way to pay for it through official channels]. I have family who have been in the force. I have friends and family that have been in the force. I have friends and family that have been in the military. I do not have anything against people who serve or know what they are doing. I just believe there needs to be a better regulation on those who are put in that position of authority and who are told to enforce the law but also protect us as citizens. David Dorn was a great representation of that for many years, and I wanted to pay that back to his family and pay for it [but could not find a way to do it through official channels]."
On if he has seen the new facemask developed that offers a mouth shield with the goal of mitigating spread of COVID-19:
"I have, and that is not going to do much. You have guys swapping hands, spitting, bleeding, coughing and sweating all over each other. We are on piles. There are so many times where there is physical contact where you are exchanging all kinds of contagions or the ability to spread the virus. There are so many actions and possibilities for that to happen. That facemask, there are good intentions behind it, but it is not going to be the trick, and neither is shutting down jersey swapping. That is not going to be the answer, either."
On if he would like to keep in touch with the families who he communicated with following the recent death of their relatives:
"Absolutely. I know that this is something that will be part of their family forever. I just wanted to make sure they are good and that they are taken care of, and that it is not just a one-off thing. I want to see them prosper and their families around them do the same."
On how the Browns season may have been different if he was not suspended:
"I think the pass rush would have been a little bit better, and I just think the defense would have been better. I think I make plays all over the field, and I feel like I have been effective at changing the gameplans' of some of the offenses that attacked us and kept them from opening too much of their playbook. That hurts you before you even get on the field. Once you have to change what you are doing around one person, you have to respect those other tendencies and see what they can do, and those guys are ready to ball."
On if there has been any communication between him and Steelers QB Mason Rudolph or Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin since the Browns-Steelers game:
"No, there has been no communication. I have no problem talking to those guys, but there just hasn't [been communication]. Until then, I am going to keep focused on the season and keep focused on training and getting prepared. I do not have any ill intent towards either of them. I respect Mike Tomlin as a coach, and what he has done in the league has been great for the Steelers and they have had success for a long time. I hope Mason Rudolph goes on to have success. I have no problem with him going forward. Whatever happens, happens. If we are able to talk, we will deal with things as grown men, and that is fine by me. I am just going to keep my eyes forward and keep focused on the plan and the goal."
On the state of the Browns defense, particularly after implementing a new scheme during the virtual offseason, and if the virtual meetings have been effective:
"We took advantage of a couple of applications to quiz ourselves and to go over our film and gameplans. I feel like it was almost as good as sitting in the classroom. You don't get to see your guys and have that personal connection as you would [in person] with someone you haven't been on the team with, but guys who you have already been around, you are not really missing too much."
On plans for his first big purchase after the contract extension:
"One for me, it would be a car. For my family, it would be a home. I want to give my parents a home in Texas."