Andrew Berry is hard at work assessing and assembling his Cleveland Browns roster for 2022.
Just a few days ago, he cleared $4 million in cap space by re-working the contract of Jack Conklin.
But if the latest rumor to hit social media is true, Berry is going to have to find a few more million.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns are willing to pay big bucks to David Njoku.
Report: #Browns prepared to offer TE David Njoku over $10 million per season, per @MaryKayCabot
— JPA Football (@jpafootball) February 28, 2022
“The Browns definitely want him back, and are prepared to pay him the double-digit millions he’ll get on the open market. They are poised to try to get a deal done before or during the legal tampering period March 14-16.”
Njoku made $6 million on his fifth-year option last season, and the additional 4 from Conklin’s new deal makes 10.
But that doesn’t leave much for other projected re-signings, extensions, and the free-agent period.
Cleveland is believed to have around $31 million in available cap space at this moment.
Will The Browns Over-Pay Njoku?
Does Andrew Berry believe David Njoku is worth the double-digit millions Cabot says he’ll get on the open market?
Franchising Njoku would cost Berry almost $11 million, but there is a caveat.
Tight end franchise tag values are heavily tilted because the top-5 salaries are disproportionately elevated.
The top 4 tight ends earned $12.5 million or more last year, but the 6th-through-10th only made $8-8.5 million.
David Njoku got 🆙 pic.twitter.com/seKkDT5em0
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 7, 2021
You have to be special to make $11 million as an NFL tight end.
Pro Football Focus gave Njoku a career-high 70.9 rating and believe he is worth $12.5 million per for 3-4 years.
But Spotrac and Over The Cap both say Njoku is worth just under $7 million per, the 16th-highest projected salary.
Teams like the NY Jets and the LA Chargers need a pass-catching tight end and have cap space.
But how much is Andrew Berry willing to pay to avoid a bidding war?
What Are The Chances?
Austin Hooper is currently the 6th-highest paid tight end in the league, though his salary drops to $9.5 million.
He will be the first to admit his 2021 season did not justify that amount, but what does Berry believe is more likely?
Will Hooper rebound closer to the 75% catch rate, 6-touchdown player he signed out of Atlanta?
Or is he the career-high drops and the over-fatigued player we saw tail off as the 2021 season came to an end?
David Njoku gets loose 🔥pic.twitter.com/J7V4XHkIje
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) October 10, 2021
Berry can release or trade Hooper with a June 2nd designation and save his salary against the cap.
Re-signing Njoku to a big deal probably spells the end of the former Falcon, while $7 million leaves the door open.
But there is one other factor Berry might consider, and that is the third-year tight end, Harrison Bryant.
Bryant caught 75% of the passes thrown his way and finished just 1 touchdown shy of Njoku on half the targets.
And he projects to be more of a Njoku-type player than a Hooper-type, complicating Berry’s decision even more.
Concerned Browns Fan says
David is our best TE for sure, with Bryant being second. Hooper is a professional, but we should release him in order to get other players signed. Might be best to say, Hooper is replaceable. If we don’t pay David, there are other franchises that would, without question!
Happy to read AB is making the effort, to keep David, with our Browns!