Cleveland Browns place tender on Isaiah Crowell

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It’s easy to dismiss Cleveland’s disastrous one-win season, but not every aspect of the campaign was total wreckage.

The development of Isaiah Crowell was a quiet plus, and the Browns don’t plan to let the young running back get away.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the team has placed a second-round tender on the fourth-year pro worth $2.81 million, per sources informed of the situation. Tender aside, the sides continue to work on a long-term deal that would replace the tender entirely.

Cleveland and Crowell have been negotiating a new contract for months before hitting a “stalemate” in January, according to Rapoport.

The undrafted Crowell finished the year as the league’s 15th-leading rusher, pounding out 952 yards at a healthy 4.8 yards per carry. His eight totes of 20-plus yards ranked fifth in the NFL, but the 24-year-old trailed off down the stretch before exploding for 152 yards in Week 17.

Colquitt joined the Browns in 2016 on a single-year deal following his release from the Denver Broncos and after the Browns traded former punter Andy Lee to Carolina. He set a team single-season record with a net average of 40.31 yards and he made 22 punts inside the 20-yard line.

“I am thrilled,” Colquitt said per the team’s official site. “My family couldn’t be happier. We love the organization and the fans. From Jimmy and to Sashi (Brown) to the coaching staff with Hue (Jackson) and of course Tabes (), this is a great place to work. The Browns are a class act. I want to thank the organization for giving me this opportunity.”

When one in Cleveland reflects on McCown’s career, that person will think of ugly seasons, multiple injuries (two broken collarbones in two years, a concussion) and missed games (he played in 13 contests in two seasons), but they’ll remember his gutty play behind a line that saw two of its best three pieces depart between McCown’s first and second season in Cleveland. They’ll remember his blue-collar attitude, which was on full display after a difficult loss in 2016 in which he was again knocked around relentlessly.

Relatively speaking, McCown wasn’t that bad. He completed 276 of 457 passes for 3,209 yards and an 18-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. But his play falls in line with the collective performance of the team, which was subpar if we’re putting it nicely.

Williams, meanwhile, won’t be as easily recalled, partly due to the high-profile nature of the quarterback position. The former Packers corner came to Cleveland in the same free agent class as McCown, signed to be a worthy corner opposite and to give first-round pick Justin Gilbert time to develop in a lesser role, which became a running theme in the Farmer era as Cleveland overpaid aging free agents to cover holes created by misses in the first round of Farmer’s 2014 draft.

Nike Browns #23 Joe Haden Pro Line Black Gold Collection Men's Stitched NFL Game JerseyThe result was a decent season from Williams in 2015 — 15 games played, 69 tackles, 10 passes defensed, one interception — but anyone who watched the weekly play of the defensive back could tell midway through the season that he’d lost a step. Hue Jackson’s staff inherited Farmer’s acquisitions in 2016, and Williams’ drop in starts — from 15 to seven — showed that what everyone saw wasn’t a mirage.

Following its analytical approach (which includes a baseline rule of staying away from additions over 30 years old), Cleveland cut ties and shed salary. The Browns avoided paying a $750,000 roster bonus to McCown and $1 million to the 33-year-old Williams, and incurred just over $1.1 million in dead cap. This is peanuts for the organization with the most cap space in the league heading into the offseason.

Cleveland has since invested in cornerback and still has Haden, who is under contract through 2019, coincidentally the same year he turns 30. With McCown now out of the picture and free to latch on with a contender in the twilight of his career, the quarterback focus turns to the future of Griffin, (who was hit just as often as McCown, if not more) and the possibility of adding yet another first-round quarterback via the draft. Year Two of the Sashi Brown/ era should be the most interesting yet.