The Cleveland Browns need a healthy Gary Barnidge in 2016


Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge underwent hernia surgery Thursday morning.

The Cleveland Browns found a gem in tight end Gary Barnidge. He is entering his eighth season in the NFL, but never had more than 13 receptions in a season before 2015.

That all changed last year when he hauled in 79 receptions for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns.

The breakout season saw Barnidge get rewarded with a three-year contract extension with the Browns worth $12.3 million. He deserved the money because he is the focal point of an offense that is now filled with mostly younger talent.

Barnidge may be the most important player on offense this season, which is why it is important he is able to be on the field for all 16 games.

His importance to the team’s success is why some news from this morning may have caused a small scare for Browns fans.

The news looks bad at first glance, but Hue Jackson said Barnidge will be back for training camp, so there should be nothing to worry about.

Even though he will be back for camp, according to Jackson, seeing such an important player undergo surgery reminds fans how fragile a career can be for professional athletes.

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If this injury were to occur during the season, the offense may be derailed for a few weeks while Barnidge recovered, although he may choose to play through it, which would be detrimental to both his well-being and the team in the long run.

Joe Haden has also had offseason surgery, so it is important both he and Barnidge are eased back into things when they are deemed healthy enough to play.

Barnidge’s situation seems less severe than Haden’s, but his health must be watched closely by the team’s medical staff. Barnidge is a veteran whose presence on the field will benefit all the rookie receivers, along with rookie tight end Seth DeValve.

He should also be Robert Griffin III’s main target, at least at the start of the season, so having him miss any time would hurt the offense’s chemistry at the beginning of the season.

Barnidge will be back for training camp, so hopefully this is the only injury scare he has this season.