Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku is currently set to play on the franchise tag this year. The deal on the table is reportedly in excess of $13 million according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
The ultra-talented Cleveland Browns TE has yet to realize his ceiling. Since being drafted in the first round by the Browns in 2017, Njoku has logged 148 receptions for 1,754 yards and 15 touchdowns over his career. Njoku has recorded more than 36 receptions only once in his career (2018) but had a “comeback” 2021 season after dismal campaigns in 2019 and 2020.
In 2021, Njoku logged 36 receptions for 475 yards and 4 touchdowns. His 4 touchdowns tied his career-high marks set in 2017 and 2018. His receptions and yardage totals were good for his second-best season marks in his career.
The Cleveland Browns placed the franchise tag on Njoku on March 7, 2022. The franchise tag will pay Njoku $10.931 million for the 2022 season.
There have been questions about whether or not David Njoku wanted to be in Cleveland long-term. After signing TE Austin Hooper to a 4-year $44 million deal and drafting TE Harrison Bryant, the Browns received the request to trade Njoku before training camp from his agent Drew Rosenhaus.
Without an extension, David Njoku is slated to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2022 season. The Browns could franchise tag him again if no agreement is reached but a second consecutive franchise tag comes with caveats. A second franchise tag will guarantee the recipient 120% of his first franchise tag salary, totaling $13.117 for Njoku in 2023 if this scenario would happen. It’s similar money to the reported extension on the table but wouldn’t guarantee Njoku to remain in Cleveland long-term.
If the Browns sign David Njoku to a deal in excess of $13 million annually, he would be a top 5 paid NFL TE based on annual contract value.
Current highest paid tight ends by annual contract value via spotrac:
George Kittle, SF – $15,000,000Travis Kelce, KC – $14,312,500Dallas Goedert, PHI – $14,250,000Mark Andrews, BAL – $14,000,000Hunter Henry, NE – $12,500,000
While the Browns presumably will get more production out of the tight end position following the acquisition of QB Deshaun Watson, it’s interesting to see them offer a sizeable extension to a player that hasn’t met his potential through 5 years in the NFL. It’s easy however to see the talent and what he potentially has to offer. Surely the Browns’ front office has a plan and Njoku is a large part of it.