Cleveland Browns sign Gary Barnidge to Extension
It is said that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while. After a disastrous 2015 season rivalling even the darkest of times since re-entering the league in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have given fans something to cheer for, for the first time since the team improved to 2-3 back in week 5.
The franchise has announced it has signed tight end Gary Barnidge to a contract extension. According to NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport, the sketchy details of the contract disseminated so far include a three-year extension purportedly “north of $12 million”, which Rapoport called an “eminently fair offer” considering the circumstances.
He’s not wrong. Barnidge had to wait until his thirtieth birthday to enjoy his breakout season, but it has been just about the only bright spot on an offense characterised by inconsistency at quarterback and a lot of sunk cost at wide receiver.
Since joining Cleveland in 2013 after a four-year stint of irrelevancy in Carolina, Barnidge hauled in 26 catches for 2 touchdowns prior to the 2015 season. With four games still to play this year, Barnidge has caught 60 catches for 7 touchdowns, including a freakish between-the-thighs catch that sealed a clutch, emotional win against despised rivals Baltimore.
For all the leaps and bounds he has made this year, it would not be unreasonably reactionary to call Barnidge a top-ten tight end in the NFL right now.
What seems like an uncharacteristically shrewd personnel decision from a franchise known for band-aid solutions should ensure that, regardless of who starts under center next season, they will have at least one reliable target to throw to.