On Thursday night, Gary Barnidge took to Twitter to welcome rookie tight end David Njoku to the Browns.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport confirmed that the Browns on Friday informed Barnidge that he would be cut by the team just 16 months after inking a four-year, $13.5 million extension. The team later confiremd Barnidge’s release.
That new contract came on the heels of his 1,000-yard, nine-touchdown season in 2015, but Barnidge came back to earth last year with just 612 yards and two scores off 55 grabs. It didn’t help that he played with roughly 22 quarterbacks, but coach Hue Jackson said in March of his tight end group: “That position needs to upgrade.”
It’s mildly surprising — the Browns could have kept both players — but Cleveland obviously has high hopes for Njoku, the 6-foot-4, 246-pound first-rounder out of Miami. The Browns traded back into Round 1 for the rookie, who prompted NFL Network’s Mike Mayock to say: “He doesn’t even know yet how good he can be. All the talent in the world.”
The Browns hope that talent bubbles to the surface immediately in 2017. As for Barnidge, the 31-year-old veteran shouldn’t have a problem finding work elsewhere before camps launch this summer.