Cleveland Browns: Breaking down the notable 2017 roster subtractions
Before the Browns were blown up following the 2015 season, Gary Barnidge was coming off the best season of his career. He hauled in 79 receptions for 1,043 yards and made the Pro Bowl, while also agreeing to an extension with the Browns.
The team added Seth DeValve in last year’s NFL Draft, but Barnidge still remained the top option at the tight end position. But after a year in which he caught just 55 passes for 612 yards and two touchdowns, an upgrade was sought in the draft.
The selection of David Njoku in the first round of this year’s draft signaled the beginning of the end for Barnidge in Cleveland, who was released soon after the selection.
The move makes sense according to the current philosophy in place, as the Browns will look to make the younger Njoku the featured tight end while DeValve can add some production as well.
The team didn’t solely release Barnidge because of a bad year during a 1-15 season, but the opportunity to add Njoku outweighed keeping the 31-year-old Barnidge who has only had one solid NFL season.
The genius, or lack thereof, of this move won’t be known until we see both Barnidge and Njoku play in 2017, but it does follow the front office’s rebuilding strategy. The potential of youth will always outweigh that of a veteran in a rebuilding scenario, especially when the veteran is coming off an average season.