David Njoku will flip his franchise tag right into a top-five tight finish settlement. Weeks forward of the deadline for franchise-tagged gamers to signal extensions, the Browns have come to phrases with the previous first-round decide.

The Browns are signing Njoku to a four-year deal value $56.75M, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report (on Twitter). Njoku will see $28M totally assured. This $14.2M-per-year deal makes the five-year Browns contributor the NFL’s fourth-highest-paid tight finish.

Cleveland, which entered Friday holding probably the most cap area within the league, might have used this season as a de facto audition yr for Njoku on the tag. But experiences stored rising the Browns had been serious about extending him. After making a suggestion north of $13M per year, the Browns confirmed their religion in Njoku on Friday. Njoku’s $14.2M-AAV determine is available in under George Kittle‘s $15M highwater mark, however it’s proper within the neighborhood of Travis Kelce ($14.3M AAV) and Dallas Goedert ($14.25M).

Considering Njoku’s lack of statistical success on his rookie contract, it is a main win for the ex-Miami Hurricane and a Browns guess on his potential. The 2017 first-rounder has only one 500-yard season on his resume. That got here again in 2018, when Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens had been operating Cleveland’s offense. The 6-foot-4 go catcher, nevertheless, is barely going into his age-26 season. Several prime seasons might nicely stay forward for Njoku, who ought to have an enormous alternative to up his sport with Deshaun Watson now at quarterback in Cleveland.

This extension comes two months after the Browns reduce Austin Hooper, whom they beforehand signed to a top-five (on the time) tight finish deal. Hooper’s presence reduce into Njoku’s alternatives, however in tagging the latter forward of the March deadline, the Browns signaled they nonetheless believed within the youthful participant’s potential right here. Njoku headlines a Cleveland tight finish depth chart that features 2020 fourth-round decide Harrison Bryant. This contract makes it clear who the Browns will depend on on the place.

The Browns traded again into the 2017 first spherical, after having already chosen two gamers that yr (which included buying and selling out of the Watson draft slot with the Texans), to nab Njoku with the No. 29 total decide. Other than his 639-yard 2018 displaying, Njoku has by no means taken off in Cleveland. His tenure additionally included a rocky stretch in 2020, when he requested a commerce at a number of factors after Hooper signed. The sides patched up their relationship henceforth, and Njoku did produce his second-best statistical season (475 yards, 4 landing catches) in 2021.

Amari Cooper is ready to be the centerpiece of Cleveland’s passing assault, and Donovan Peoples-Jones is positioned to be the commerce acquisition’s prime complementary piece. The group reduce Jarvis Landry and, regardless of rumors a few reunion, let him signal with the Saints following the draft. Njoku shall be poised to be a key goal for Watson and, in all chance, Jacoby Brissett this season.

This nonetheless represents an enormous guess on the potential of a participant who has not displayed consistency but. This deal additionally stands to influence the negotiations for fellow franchise-tagged tight ends Mike Gesicki and Dalton Schultz. It shall be attention-grabbing to see if this impacts Darren Waller‘s method with the Raiders. Waller is tied to an outdated $7.6M-per-year pact.

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