Browns News Round-Up: March 7, 2022

Monday was a busy day for the Cleveland Browns as they returned from Indianapolis and the NFL Scouting Combine and began to make roster moves ahead of free agency which starts on March 14th and the “legal tampering” period.

David Njoku Gets the Franchise Tag

We knew that the 25-year-old tight end would be getting paid by the Browns in some form or facet in the coming week whether it was the franchise tag or with a new multi-year contract. The answer was delivered on Monday with the Browns placing the franchise tag on David Njoku.

Now the Browns can still negotiate a long-term contract with Njoku between now and July 15, it just gives the team more time to negotiate that contract which the two sides have been working on since last season. The franchise tag for the position was officially set on Monday as well with Njoku currently slated to earn $10.9 million for the 2022 season.

NFL Network has reported that the Browns currently have an offer on the table that would pay Njoku as a top-five tight end in the league at around $13 million per year. It’s hard to believe that report because if it is indeed true, one would think Njoku and his representatives would’ve agreed to terms at this point unless his potential free-agent market was stronger than expected.

The upside and potential in his game are still there and at 25 years old, I believe we haven’t seen his peak as a receiver along with the strides he’s made as a blocker over the last couple of seasons, the Browns are banking on Njoku taking his game up a notch with a new deal. He’ll be the top tight end on the roster and will end Austin Hooper’s tenure with the team in the immediate future.

Browns Decline Janovich’s Option

The Browns made more moves on Monday as they declined an option on fullback Andy Janovich’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent on March 16 when the new league year and free agency officially opens.

Janovich was scheduled to make $1.6 million this upcoming season but with his snap count split in half from 16% in 2020 to 8.3% in 2021, the writing was potentially on the wall heading into the offseason.

His blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus took a slight dip from 67.1 to 64.7 but was still selected as a Pro Bowl Alternate in 2021.

The Browns currently have Johnny Stanton as the only fullback on the roster heading into the offseason.

Browns Tender Three Free Agents

The Browns tendered three of their exclusive rights free agents on Monday: wide receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley and offensive linemen Michael Dunn and Blake Hance.

Each of the three players has spent the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns with Hance being the biggest contributor.

Hance stepped into a part-time starting role due to injuries along the offensive line appearing in all 17 games and starting in eight of them (six games at right tackle, two games at left tackle). Dunn started in two games last season at right guard and Bradley appeared in five games making four catches for 64 yards.

Hance is scheduled to make $825,000 while Dunn and Bradley are slated to make $895,000 (contract numbers according to Over The Cap)

The Browns elected to not tender contracts to their other exclusive rights free agents, running back Dexter Williams, linebacker Montreal Meander, and defensive tackle Malik McDowell.

One WR Target Off the Board

The Browns were linked to Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley throughout the offseason as a potential trade option to bolster the wide receiver position. That will not be happening.

The NFL suspended Ridley indefinitely for gambling on NFL games during the 2021 season. Ridley took a leave of absence from the Falcons due to mental health issues in November, around the same time he was betting on games including betting on his own team.

Ridley addressed the situation in a series of tweets including one saying he doesn’t have a gambling problem

The 27-year-old receiver was heading into the final year of his rookie contract with Atlanta was linked to the Browns in trade rumors as recently as Monday morning according to several media reports. Now Ridley will have to watch football from the sidelines for at least the next calendar year.

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