The Browns are staying true to their stated goal of keeping David Njoku in the fold. Per a team announcement, they have placed the franchise tag on the tight end.
[Related: Browns Want To Keep David Njoku]
One week ago, it was reported that Cleveland was intent on making a sizeable commitment to the 25-year-old. Specifically, a deal paying him eight figures per season on average was said to be what the team is willing to offer. That came as a surprise to many, mainly because of the presence of Austin Hooper and his contract. The former Falcon signed a then record-breaking deal for tight ends, which keeps him on the books in Cleveland until 2024.
For each of the next two seasons, Hooper will carry a cap hit of $13.25MM. If he plays on the tag, Njoku will make $10.8MM, giving the Browns an expensive tandem at the position, especially considering their combined production. In 2021, the pair totalled 820 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Nevertheless, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirms that the team is treating the tag as simply a means of buying time for a long-term extension (Twitter link).
A first round pick in 2017, Njoku’s best season came one year later, when he posted 56 catches for 639 yards and four majors. Despite not putting up eye-popping numbers during his five seasons with the team, he has ultimately shown a willingness to stick around, in spite of the investment made in Hooper. For at least one more campaign, he will be able to do just that.