September 1, 2014

Medina
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Taylor will be staying with Browns

 

Scott Petrak

The Gazette

The new Browns regime let Phil Taylor know he’s wanted.

The Browns exercised the fifth-year option on the contract for the defensive lineman Friday. Taylor is now under contract through 2015, when his salary would be $5.5 million.

“It’s very evident to us watching on tape and seeing him in person this week that Phil Taylor is very explosive and he’s a great fit for what we want to do on defense,” coach Mike Pettine said in a news release. “I like his ability to rush the passer and be there to clog up the middle at the point of attack when we need him.”

The deadline to pick up the option was today.

Taylor (6-foot-3, 335 pounds) was the 21st pick in the 2011 draft. He has started 38 of 39 games in three years. He missed eight games in 2012 with a torn pectoral suffered in the offseason and missed the finale last year with a concussion.

“I am humbled and honored,” Taylor said. “I truly hope to be in Cleveland my entire career and to be part of the team that turns this franchise back into a perennial winner and championship contender, and restores the luster of the Dawg Pound!”

The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 overhauled the rookie wage scale. All draft picks sign four-year contracts, with a fifth-year club option for first-rounders. Taylor’s salary for the fifth year is based on the average of the third- through 25th-highest contracts for his position.

The $5.5 million is only guaranteed for injury, and if the Browns elect to keep him for 2015, it’s at an affordable salary. The original four-year contract was worth $8 million.

Taylor was drafted by former general manager Tom Heckert to play tackle in a 4-3 but moved to nose tackle last year in the 3-4. He played only 51 percent of the snaps, as he was replaced by smaller, faster players for many nickel situations.

Pettine got his first extended up-close look at Taylor this week during a three-day minicamp. He said Thursday after practice that Taylor is a fit for the multifront, versatile scheme he wants to run.

As of Thursday afternoon, Taylor hadn’t heard from rookie general manager Ray Farmer regarding the option. But he was already a fan of the scheme being installed by Pettine and coordinator Jim O’Neil.

“We’re loving it,” he said. “We’re starting to grasp the concepts and things like that and everything is coming along good.”

Taylor has 130 tackles, seven sacks, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in three years. His best statistical season was as a rookie, when he had 59 tackles and four sacks.

He started 15 games at nose tackle last year, recording 57 tackles, two sacks and one pass defensed as Cleveland finished ninth in the NFL in total defense, its best finish since 1994. Taylor said the new system is a similar hybrid of fronts, but he’s moving around more.

“I play more positions in this defense, which I like,” he said.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.