Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge recently tweeted out the news that he is no longer a member of the team after four seasons in Cleveland.
Amid all the changes throughout the past four seasons, Gary Barnidge was always a respected member of the Cleveland Browns. But it appears his tenure in Cleveland is now over.
This news comes after the Browns traded back into the first round last night to draft David Njoku, a tight end out of Miami. Drafting Seth DeValve a year ago also likely played into this decision.
Barnidge had signed a three-year extension at the end of his monster 2015 campaign, a season in which he had 1,043 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Yet he wasn’t able to repeat his success in 2016, although he didn’t exactly have much help from the quarterback position.
This move is a bit surprising, but it makes sense given the Browns just got a whole lot younger at the position. And when a team is rebuilding, the potential of the youth may outweigh the past success of the veterans.
Njoku is just 20 years old, and the fact the Browns traded up to get him show that he is set to be the featured player at the tight end position in 2017. He is a dynamic tight end who stands 6-foot-4 and ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine.
But even with the reasoning, there wasn’t a glaring need to cut Barnidge at this point. The young tight ends can still get plenty of playing time if Barnidge was on the roster, and the amount of cap space the team owns means Barnidge’s modest contract wasn’t as bad as say, Brock Osweiler’s.
No arguing will bring him back, but it is a questionable move that requires Njoku to come in and produce right away, as Barnidge was one of the few reliable skill players on offense.
The amount of draft picks the Browns hold mean the team is going in a younger direction, but it is never fun to see such a respected player be let go. Best of luck to you in the future, Gary.