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Browns to pick up fifth-year option of LT Jedrick Wills Jr.

Jedrick Wills Jr. has two more years to live up to his draft status.

The Browns will pick up the fifth-year option on the left tackle’s rookie contract, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram on Monday. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler was first to report the news.

The deadline is Tuesday.

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The 2024 option is worth $14.175 million guaranteed based on playing time and a lack of Pro Bowl appearances. Wills was the No. 10 pick in 2020 — Andrew Berry’s first selection as a general manager.

The move was expected, but Berry declined to answer Saturday when asked after the draft.

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Wills has been inconsistent in his three seasons, but the Browns feel he improved last year and is headed in the right direction.

“Jed definitely took strides this year,” coach Kevin Stefanski said after the season. “I think like many young players there are still areas where he can be more consistent, but we definitely thought he took a step forward this season.”

The Browns could work on a long-term deal for Wills that would replace the fifth-year option. If they don’t, it’s cheaper than the going rate for the top tackles — $25 million a year for Laremy Tunsil and $23 million for Trent Williams and David Bakhtiari — and gives the Browns two more seasons to evaluate if he’s worth an extension.

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Wills played right tackle in high school in Kentucky and at the University of Alabama but immediately made the switch to the left side with the Browns. His offseason as a rookie was done remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he started 15 regular-season games and two in the playoffs.

His second season, in 2021, was sabotaged by an injury. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the opener, tried to play through it, missed two games and was limited when he returned. He missed another two games late in the year with COVID-19.

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“It was like to the point where after we left the game I couldn’t even walk,” Wills said of the ankle injury in an interview with The Chronicle last offseason. “It was just never the same.”

Wills stayed healthy last year and started all 17 games. He had a few of the best games of his career, but the dominance was sporadic and some fans on social media focused on plays where he was beat or stopped before the play was over. Pro Football Focus ranked him 56th among tackles with a 62.9 grade — 69.6 pass blocking and 55.3 run blocking.

“Gotten better, but still could be better,” he said near the end of last season regarding finishing plays. “Just having that want-to, having that drive, putting myself in better positions.”

With the option, the Browns will have all five starting linemen under contract through at least 2024. Wills is motivated to match the performance of guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller and right tackle Jack Conklin, all of whom have been All-Pros.

“Be on the same level as those guys,” he said. “You see all them get paid, it makes you want to get paid, too. Just you see them grading high, so I was like, ‘OK, (screw) it, why can’t I get a high grade this week, too?’ Which I have. I had one of the highest grades in my whole career this season a couple times. So I feel like we’re trending in the right direction.”

So do the Browns.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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