The Browns granted nose tackle Phil Taylor’s wish Friday by exercising the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
The 21st overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, Taylor is now under contract through the 2015 season. He’ll make about $5.5 million that year.
“I am humbled and honored that the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on my contract,” Taylor said in a news release distributed by the team. “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 Browns had until today to pick up the option. If they had declined to exercise it, Taylor would’ve been scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next March.
However, Browns coach Mike Pettine and his staff clearly value what Taylor, 26, can bring to their 3-4, hybrid defense. They had a chance to closely watch the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Taylor earlier this week during the team’s three-day voluntary veteran minicamp.
“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,” Pettine said in the 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.”
Taylor has started 38 of the 39 games in which he has appeared. He has compiled 130 tackles, including seven sacks, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Last season, Taylor started all 15 games in which he played and had 57 tackles, including two sacks, and one pass defensed. Taylor played 50.5 percent of the defensive snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.com, because he would often be removed from the game when former Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton employed the nickel package.
It remains to be seen whether Taylor plays more in Pettine’s system.
“We don’t know,” Taylor said Thursday following the final minicamp practice. “We’re working together and seeing how things go for the spring right now, and when [training] camp gets around [this summer], we’ll know.”
This much is certain: Taylor expects to move around more on the defensive line in Pettine’s scheme than he did in Horton’s system.
“I play more positions in this defense, which I like,” Taylor said.
He’s also thrilled to know he’ll be staying with the Browns for at least the next two seasons.
“I love Cleveland,” Taylor said. “And I want to be part of the team that puts Cleveland back on the map.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.