The Cleveland Browns are still shopping for additional depth at the tight end position.
They waived three tight ends to get the roster down to 53 players: Miller Forristall, Nakia Griffin-Stewart, and Zaire Mitchell-Paden.
That left David Njoku and Harrison Bryant as the lone two at the position on the roster.
The team might consider adding one more guy at that spot to the depth chart before the season gets underway next Sunday.
One name to keep an eye on is Jesse James, who per multiple reports worked out with the team on Thursday.
#Browns worked out TE Jesse James
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) September 1, 2022
Did He Catch It?
“Why does that name sound familiar”, you ask?
Fans will remember him from an infamous end-of-game situation as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
James caught what would have been the go-ahead (and likely game-winning) touchdown against the New England Patriots in Week 15 of the 2017 season.
Only, upon review, officials determined he did not complete the entire process of catching the ball while falling to the ground in the end zone.
Immediately after, the Patriots defense intercepted Ben Roethlisberger to steal the win in Pittsburgh.
The #Patriots won because #Steelers Jesse James failed to maintain control of the football through the catch. You can clearly see the ball hit the ground and his hands leave the ball. #NEvsPIT pic.twitter.com/660TUThX7n
— Jay Frye (@JayFryeNBA) December 18, 2017
Goodbye and best wishes to Duron Harmon 😭
Here’s a moment where he saved the game and preserved the win against the Steelers ❤️ pic.twitter.com/RvQDsj72hF
— Boston Cream 🍩 (@itsbostoncream) March 18, 2020
The phrase “does not survive the ground” might be banished from Western Pennsylvania as a result.
A Fit in Cleveland?
James has been a backup tight end his entire NFL career. However, he’s proven the ability to step into a starting role when called upon.
Following his days in Pittsburgh, James played two years in Detroit and one in Chicago before hitting free agency again this past offseason.
Last season with the Bears was his least productive since his rookie year.
James caught just 7 passes on 8 targets for 62 yards and 1 touchdown.
— SportzStew Ⓥ (@sportzstewcom) October 31, 2021
With a shiny new contract extension, however, Njoku is the clear number one tight end in Berea.
Coming off a solid 2021, Bryant is someone Kevin Stefanski will be comfortable with as the number two.
James would be a great option for the third and final spot given his experience as a role player and comfort in being asked to start.
There aren’t too many better options than James left on the market.
With O.J. Howard signing with the Houston Texans, the chance to make a splash signing with him is gone.
Guys like Eric Ebron and Jared Cook may be some guys the front office takes a look at as two experienced players.
Looking at a list of remaining free agents outside of that, however, and things quickly get thin.
What Will They Do?
Ultimately it’s not a huge deal whether the Browns go after a third tight end or not. It surprised some to see them go with just two on the 53-man roster.
However, they feel great about Njoku and Bryant.
Health can be fickle in the NFL, and we all know the importance of good depth.
If the Browns liked what they saw from James’ workout Thursday, perhaps taking a flier on him isn’t a bad idea.
If he didn’t impress, it’s easy to walk away.