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David Njoku closing in on massive contract extension with the Cleveland Browns

Vincent Frank

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has been an enigmatic figure since they made the former Miami (F) star a first-round pick back in 2017.

During his five-year run with Cleveland, Njoku has failed to record as much as 60 receptions or 700 yards in a single season. That didn’t stop the Browns from placing the franchise tag on him earlier this offseason.

With Njoku away from voluntary organization team activities this week, we’re hearing a report from Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com indicating that the two sides are close on what be a massive contract extension.

Per the Browns insider, said deal would come in at $13 million annually and be a part of a multi-year contract. The minor hold up right now seems to be guarantees heading in the tight end’s direction.

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Potential David Njoku contract and standing among NFL tight ends

david njoku contract
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

This deal would make the 25-year-old the fifth highest-paid tight end in the NFL in terms of average annual salary.

  • George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers: $15 million
  • Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs: $14.31 million
  • Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles: $14.25 million
  • Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens: $14 million

We’ve seen the tight end market blow up big time with teams relying on catch-first players at this position a great deal in recent seasons. Kittle and Kelce would be two prime examples of this.

A fifth-round pick of the 49ers back in 2017, Kittle is averaging 73 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards over the past four seasons. As for Kelce, he’s been on a completely different level than other tight ends during his current six-year run. That span has seen the seven-time Pro Bowler average 1,163 yards per season.

As pretty much Lamar Jackson’s favorite target with the Baltimore Ravens, Andrews’ production has shown big time, too. He’s coming off a career-best 1,361-yard season.

With that said, the tight end market has dictated players who haven’t had a ton of success getting paid. Jonnu Smith ranks fifth among tight ends with an average salary of $12.5 million. In his first season with the New England Patriots, the tight end recorded 28 receptions for 294 yards. Those numbers are much less than what we saw from Njoku a season ago in Cleveland.

From the Browns’ perspective, signing Njoku to an extension now could give them short-term cap relief. He’s set to count roughly $11 million against the cap in 2022 after being handed the franchise tag. Even at $13 million annually, the Browns can back-load said deal to lower his 2022 figure.

Should Tom Brady have stayed retired?

At 25, there’s reason to believe David Njoku has not hit his ceiling. With star quarterback Deshaun Watson now tossing the rock in Cleveland, the expectation is this tight end will have break out 2022 campaign.

Even then, there’s certainly some risk to this given that Njoku hasn’t been anywhere near a Po Bowl-caliber performer in his first five seasons with the team.

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