UPDATE: Barnidge has signed an extension with the team. No word yet on the terms of the extension, but Ian Rapoport says the team was targeting $4 million per year, which would be far less than I would've guessed.
I would like to announce I have signed an extension to remain in Cleveland. Looking forward to years to come. pic.twitter.com/X75uXvggCH— Gary Barnidge (@garybarnidge) December 10, 2015
According to multiple reports, including CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Cleveland Browns are expected to reach a contract extension with breakout tight end Gary Barnidge:
Browns extension with breakout TE Gary Barnidge is imminent I'm told. Great story in a bleak Browns season. Top 3 receiving TE this year— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 10, 2015
Browns are working on an extension with TE Gary Barnidge, per sources. Could get done as soon as today.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 10, 2015
Barnidge's breakout success at 30 years of age is unprecedented. In fact, a few weeks ago, FiveThirtyEight.com analyzed just how rare Barnidge's story is in the NFL. He currently sits at 60 catches for 817 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2015. In his first seven years in the league, he had a total of 603 yards. Thanks to fantasy football, it's been easy for Barnidge to gain notoriety across the country -- he's currently fourth in the NFL in Pro Bowl voting.
Jordan Cameron, the player who the Browns almost re-signed this offseason, has 26 catches for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns this year. The deal that Cleveland was reportedly offering to Cameron was a 2-year, $15 million deal. Barnidge is a unique case in the NFL, so his contract negotiations should be quite unusual. He has the productivity of a top-tier receiving tight end, but doesn't block exceptionally well. Also, you have to factor in his age. Ultimately, if I had to take a guess at Barnidge's contract, it would be around 3 years for $20 million.
This also opens the door for questions about the Browns' front office -- if GM Ray Farmer is still being empowered to do a contract extension this late into the year, is that a show of faith from team owner Jimmy Haslam about the general manager's future with the club?