After the abrupt, inglorious end to his season last year, Myles Garrett's reputation was in the gutter and Garrett himself admitted he was considering retiring from football at the budding age of 24.
Thankfully he didn't make that decision because now we get to see him reach MVP status.
Garrett, coming off a season-ending six game suspension for hitting quarterback Myles Rudolph in the head with his own helmet during a game last season, has changed the narrative around himself less than a year later. No longer are we discussing the potential of a man who wowed anyone with eyes at the 2017 NFL Combine or the missteps he's made since entering the league. Now we're seeing that potential realized both on the tape and in the stat books.
Garrett leads the NFL with five sacks and 23 quarterback pressures this season. He has forced three fumbles on sacks and recovered two fumbles. Virtually all of that production has come in the Browns' last three games and they are 3-0 in large part because of it. Extrapolated over the course of a 16-game season, Garrett is currently on pace for 20 sacks, 92 QB pressures, 12 forced fumbles, and eight fumble recoveries.
Those are the kind of numbers the Browns hoped for when they signed Garrett to a $125 million extension this offseason, which included $100 million in total guarantees, the most ever paid to a defensive player. It was a risk considering the reprehensible decision he made on national television with Rudolph's helmet. But it was also risky considering he never ascended to the levels expected of him coming out of college. And that's saying something for a player who had 30.5 sacks in his first three seasons.
Garrett was hailed as a transcendent talent after lighting it up at the combine. At 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, Garrett ran a 4.64 40, benched 225 pounds 33 times, and recorded a 41-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-8 broad jump. Those mind-blowing numbers solidified him as the clear No. 1 pick that year and the Browns agreed, selecting him first overall in 2017.
That decision looked shaky considering the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey were drafted after Garrett and established themselves as the best at their position quicker than Garrett did. But any naysayers have been silenced now that we see Garrett at his full potential both as a positive force on the field and seemingly in the locker room.
A lot still has to unfold the rest of the season and over the course of Garrett's career to truly know where he'll stack up against his draft class and the other greats of the game's history. Considering the circumstances he faced coming into this season, however, you have to say his redemption tour is off to an MVP start. If he sustains that level the rest of the year, he'll have the hardware to go with it.