Browns tight ends: Stay or go in 2018?

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have several roster decisions to make for 2018, but tight end may be one position that is in good hands.

The Cleveland Browns will spend the early part of 2018 embarking on yet another one of their “most important off seasons ever” as the franchise starts its latest rebuilding project.

But unlike their past attempts to turn themselves into an actual NFL franchise, this rebuild is taking on a different look and feel.

General manager John Dorsey has a solid foundation to build on thanks to the work done by executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown before he was fired in December.

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns /

Cleveland Browns

In addition to sound offensive and defensive lines, along with young, promising players at tight end, linebacker and in the secondary, Dorsey has somewhere north of $100 million in cap space at his disposal, along with 12 selections in the 2018 NFL Draft – including picks No. 1 and No. 4 in the first round, plus another three selections in the second round.

Dorsey needs to hold onto some of that cap space to start re-signing players nearing the end of their rookie deals, running back Duke Johnson comes to mind, but the cap dollars, draft picks and unwritten NFL rule that a new general manager needs “his players” to make things work means that the roster will undergo changes between now and Week 1 of the regular season in September.

To that end, let’s take a look at the tight ends currently on the roster to determine who will likely still be in Orange and Brown come the fall, and who will be seeking employment elsewhere.

Current tight ends

David Njoku, Seth DeValve, Randall Telfer and Matt Lengel

Contract status

Njoku is signed through 2020, DeValve is signed through 2019, Telfer is signed through 2018 and Lengel is signed through 2018 (Per

2017 stats

  • Njoku – 32 receptions, 386 yards, four touchdowns
  • DeValve – 33 receptions, 395 yards, 1 touchdown
  • Telfer – 3 receptions, 36 yards, no touchdowns
  • Lengel – no stats

Stay or Go?

It may have had as much to do with the wide receivers as it did with their own individual skills, but Seth DeValve and David Njoku finished second and third on the Browns in receptions and receiving yards in 2017.

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Njoku may not have made the type of impact that some fans would have liked from a first-round selection, but tight end can be a difficult position for players their first year in the league. Njoku still gave fans a taste of his athletic talent and potential, and his four touchdown receptions were a franchise record for a rookie tight end. With another year of prep work, Njoku should have a breakout season this fall.

DeValve is a nice player to have around as a second tight end, but is also one that doesn’t necessarily move the needle. He showed nice improvement in his second year in the league, another example of how it takes time at that position, but his ceiling may not be that much higher. However, with the Browns having other areas they need to focus on, he should be safe for another year.

Telfer is strictly on the team as a blocking tight end — he has five receptions in two seasons with the Browns — so how much value he brings to the table remains to be seen. The Browns did have another solid year running the ball, however, so Telfer’s willingness to block could prove to be an asset.

Lengel spent the second half of the season on the practice squad after spending time with the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. He is a massive target at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, but other than that hasn’t really done much to distinguish himself.

Next: Browns have options at QB this offseason

Of the group, Njoku is certainly safe to remain on the team, and DeValve has a good shot as well as he is familiar with head coach Hue Jackson’s offense after spending two years in it. With so much else on their plate, it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise of the Browns kept the status quo at the tight end position heading into the 2018 season.