The Cleveland Browns had yet another underwhelming, lost season as they went 6-10. The season led to massive changes within the organization including at head coach and general manager. The Browns addressed their coaching position with the hiring of Kevin Stefanski and their general manager position with Andrew Berry, but there are a lot of things left to do this offseason. I have started examining each of the team’s position’s to-do list this offseason. The last offensive position to be examined in the series is the tight ends position.
The tight end position greatly underperformed this season. Coming in there were big things expected from David Njoku and to a lesser extent Demetrius Harris. Njoku was supposed to be one of the big playmakers for the offense, but instead of making plays, he created more questions for his future. Njoku played in just four games, missing a large chunk of the games because of injury. But, he also was one of a couple of players on the Browns who received the head-scratching inactive tag in a couple of games. Thrown into a bigger role, Harris was not able to take advantage of the opportunity. He was just not good enough in all areas, especially blocking which he was supposed to be strong at coming into the season. Beyond these two, Ricky Seals-Jones and Stephen Carlson had glimpses of strong play, but the consistency was not there. Pharaoh Brown played in a good amount of snaps but performed at a level that showed he is not capable of managing those increased snap amounts.
1. Figure out David Njoku’s standing with the team
David Njoku had a disappointing season, to say the least. He missed more than half the season with an injury and then when he came back, he ended up in the doghouse for unknown reasons, receiving numerous inactive tags towards the end of the season. So, the season that was supposed to be his breakout season, ended up just creating more questions than answers. After this next season, Njoku has a club option with unrestricted free agency after that. The Browns must figure out what Njoku is for this team going forward. Will they pick up that club option after next season? The Browns must evaluate Njoku and figure out if he will fit into Kevin Stefanski’s offense going forward. This is a big offseason and season for Njoku.
2. Add a starting level tight end
The Browns cannot rely solely on Njoku as their starting tight end. They need a more consistent player to fill this role. Stefanski relies heavily on his tight ends and so he needs a player he can depend on a consistent basis. He needs his tight end and right now Njoku is a big question. So, the Browns must go out and get a starting level tight end. There are two top tier tights in free agency in Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry. Either of these two tight ends would fit perfectly in what the Browns need in Stefanski’s offense. The team could go with a cheaper route and nab Vance McDonald or Darren Fells to fill the need. Or the Browns could spend a Day 2 or early Day 3 pick to get a talented college tight end. I would try my hardest to get either Hooper or Henry given the importance of the tight end in Stefanski’s offense.
3. Find better blocking tight ends
The Browns also must find better blocking tight ends. Demetrius Harris was supposed to be a good blocker, but he did not perform to the level expected and needed in this area. So, the Browns need to get a tight end who can be fully reliable as an extra blocker. Whether that is the starting level tight end they bring in or a tight end who is brought in just as an extra blocker, the Browns tight end unit must find a reliable blocker.
4. Learn the new offense
Kevin Stefanski loves utilizing tight ends and his offense is very reliant on this position. So, this offseason the tight end unit will need to learn the new offense because they will be part of the keys to the success of the offense working properly. The unit is likely to have at least a couple of new faces next season, so the installation of the new offense will go along with implementing these new players as well.
5. Cut Demetrius Harris
With the way I want the Browns to build their tight end unit, Demetrius Harris is the odd man out. Harris underwhelmed in his first season with the Browns. He was supposed to be the blocking tight end for this team, but he struggled in this area, making his impact and role diminished. I would like the Browns to nab a starting level tight end, so if the Browns pay a high-priced tight end in free agency, Harris will be a salary cap relief cut. Harris was just not good enough. Cleveland needs to find a tight end who will actually be a reliable blocker that Harris couldn’t be this season.