Darren Fells has emerged as a great depth piece
The Cleveland Browns added veteran Darren Fells to their very young tight end core this season. He has proved himself and emerged as the Browns best backup tight end.
Darren Fells was an interesting signing this off season. He inked a three-year, $12 million dollar contract with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns already had young tight ends David Njoku and Seth DeValve on the roster, so the signing was confusing to some. However, Darren Fells has performed better than most expected.
This season, fells caught 11 passes on 12 targets for 117 yards and three touchdowns. That sounds like a great game for an NFL season, but on paper doesn’t seem impressive for a season. However, considering the type of play style Fells is known for and the journey he has taken, his numbers are pretty impressive.
The Browns have used Fells as a changeup piece, getting him the ball in positions where opposing teams least expect him to be used. That’s how he has three touchdowns on only 11 catches.
Darren Fells was a college basketball player at UC Irvine and went pro in a few European leagues after college. While Darren took the basketball route, his brother, Daniel, took the NFL route. Eventually, Darren began to look at the NFL route his brother, Daniel Fells, took and made a decision to change his life and pursue the NFL.
Darren Fells gave the following quote to Josh Edwards from 247sports.com when talking about his decision to come to the NFL.
"“I just was not feeling the non-contact of the sport. I just started talking to my brother (tight end Daniel Fells). He played for New England at the time. We had a long talk about whether I wanted to do basketball or give football a shot. I told him that I wanted to try football. I actually had a tryout out of college with Minnesota. I knew that there was a possibility there. He got me in contact with agents and training facilities, and it kind of just went from there.” — Edwards, 247sports.com"
Not seeing his first NFL action until he was 28, Fells first saw the field in the 2014 season for the Cardinals. He would play three years in Arizona, mostly as a blocking tight end, as his huge frame let him be a good blocker in the NFL. Listed at 6-7 and 270lbs, Fells is like another offensive lineman on the field in terms of blocking.
In three years with the Cardinals, Fells would start 24 games, catching 40 passes for 536 yards and four touchdowns. The Cardinals let Fells walk in free agency after the 2016 season. At the age of 31, Fells inked a 1 year, $1.5 million contract with the Lions.
He was again used mostly as a blocking tight end by Detroit, only catching 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 26 targets. John Dorsey saw something in the 32-year-old tight end, signing him to a 3 year, $12 contract this past offseason.
According to rotowire.com Darren Fells only ran a route on half of the pass plays he was on the field for, compared to other tight ends David Njoku and Seth DeValve who ran routes on 88 percent and 86 percent of the pass snaps they were on the field for. Fells helped keep Baker protected and has been the teams best blocking tight end.
Fells’ blocking ability for the Browns is well needed, considering David Njoku and Seth DeValve are known for not being good blockers. Fells also caught almost every ball that came his way, which is a huge plus.
David Njoku is the future at tight end for the Browns, there’s no question about that. However, Fells has emerged as a great piece for the Browns to have. His blocking has helped keep rookie Baker Mayfield clean and has helped rookie running back Nick Chubb put up some great stats. He has also emerged as a great veteran presence.
Fells will be 33 years old next season and will be 34 years old at the end of his contract with the Browns. He has served as a great depth piece for the team, and will hopefully finish his career in Cleveland.