Late last night, tight end Gary Barnidge was welcoming first-round TE David Njoku to the Browns. This afternoon, the Cleveland Browns announced they have release him. Barnidge first broke the news earlier on his Twitter account:
I want to thank the Cleveland Browns for giving me my opportunity and looking forward to seeing the change. Time for the next step.— Gary Barnidge (@garybarnidge) April 28, 2017
It’s disappointing news because we know how Barnidge has been a standout player amidst the misery over the past few years, and persevered from being a “career backup” to becoming a starting tight end.
But all offseason, I was an advocate of the Browns drafting an athletic tight end, with the presumption that the new tight end would become the No. 1 player on the depth chart. The Browns also invested a fourth-round pick in TE Seth DeValve last year. If Cleveland is going to accelerate the development of Njoku and DeValve, they need a lot of game-time reps. That doesn’t happen with Barnidge on the roster. So, you either keep Barnidge as the third tight end, or part ways with him.
Before the Browns officially announced Barnidge’s release, I had wondered if the “report” was to drum up some interest from a team to trade a draft pick — either today or tomorrow -- for the veteran tight end. He had a very affordable contract with a $3.8 million cap hit in 2017, and could help a contender immediately. I question somewhat why the team made it a priority to tell him today that were cutting him.
In releasing Barnidge, Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown made the following statement:
"We’d like to thank Gary for all he has done for the Browns and the Cleveland community in his four seasons with our organization. He has been a fine representative of our team, and we wish him the best going forward.”