Former Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge was a guest on 92.3 The Fan’s Bull & Fox Show on Tuesday night. Though the interview was centered around Barnidge’s charity, American Football Without Barriers and his football camps, talk inevitably turned to his time with the Browns and what his future in the NFL may be.
Barnidge admitted that it was “unfortunate” when the Browns released him a day after selecting fellow tight end David Njoku in the first round of the NFL draft, but he harbors no ill will to the organization for doing so. He acknowledged that the Browns “want to go young,” and that the NFL is a business—one in which “nothing surprises” the 31-year old. Still, Barnidge did hold out hope he’d have a chance to stick around, mentor the rookie Njoku, saying that “ I wanted to stay [in Cleveland] because I knew they were going in the right direction.”
When asked about the disappointing, 1-15 2016 season that ended up his last with the Browns, Barnidge noted that while “you always want to win games... everything was new. We had new coaches, a whole new philosophy, everything was changing.” What also didn’t help: “So many injuries at the quarterbacks [position]... a lot of stuff piled on at the worst time.”
As far as what 2017 may hold for Barnidge, the tight end is quietly confident. He’s simply “waiting to see what’s going to happen,” and said that he’s “staying ready,” for whatever may happen as teams wrap up OTAs and minicamps in the coming days and weeks. It seemed like Barnidge would be a good candidate to join the Baltimore Ravens following Dennis Pitta’s season-ending hip injury last week; however, Baltimore signed Ryan Malleck on Tuesday, which likely means Barnidge’s services will be called upon from another team this summer.
Barnidge has no worries that his age will influence his ability to keep playing at a high level moving forward. He noted that he’s been a starter for only two years, that he’s had “just one major injury” in his career and that his body “feels great.” He’d rather point out that despite “eight different quarterbacks throwing me the ball, I’m still have to produce.”
Barnidge also weighed in on the future of the Browns. Asked about the quarterback situation, Barnidge demurred when it came to both Brock Osweiler and DeShone Kizer, citing having no direct familiarity with the pair to comment with authority. But he did make clear that he believes both Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan “both should get an opportunity,” citing their knowledge of head coach Hue Jackson’s system.
Regardless of the timing of Barnidge’s release, one thing is clear: He harbors no ill will toward his former team or teammates. He said he is still in touch with players like Hoga, Joe Thomas and Duke Johnson. And he retains the optimism of Browns fans and current players, saying that he is confident that the Browns can turn things around sooner than later.