CLEVELAND — Earlier this year, tight end David Njoku publicly stated his desire to remain with the Cleveland Browns.
"I love it here. I love it here to the core," Njoku said following the conclusion of the 2021 season. "I honestly want to be here for the rest of my career."
But while the Browns and Njoku have yet to come to terms on a long-term extension, it doesn't appear he'll be leaving Cleveland any time soon. On Monday, the Browns officially placed their franchise tag on the sixth-year tight end, delaying his ability to hit the free agent market when the 2022 NFL offseason officially begins next week.
Being given the franchise tag means that instead of hitting free agency as previously planned, Njoku will instead be given a one-year tender valued at an average of the top five salaries of his position. According to OverTheCap.com, the tight end franchise tag is currently valued at $10.8 million.
But while being given the franchise tag means that Njoku will remain under team control for Cleveland through the 2022 season, it doesn't necessarily mean that he'll choose to sign the tender and play for the franchise tag salary. Rather, the Browns and Njoku could choose to continue to negotiate a long-term extension between now and July 15 or Cleveland could trade the Miami (Fla.) product to a team more willing to sign him to a new deal.
Selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 25-year-old Njoku caught 36 passes for 475 yards and a team-high four touchdowns in 2021. In addition to franchise tagging Njoku, the Browns tendered exclusive rights to the following players ahead of the start of the 2022 offseason next week:
- WR Ja’Marcus Bradley
- G Michael Dunn
- OL Blake Hance