The Cleveland Browns and tight end David Njoku reached an agreement on a new contract Friday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> and franchise tagged TE David Njoku have reached an agreement in principle on a large new 4-year, $56.75M contract extension, sources tell me and <a href="https://twitter.com/TomPelissero?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TomPelissero</a>. He gets $28M guaranteed at signing on the deal that averages $14.1875M per year, the fifth highest paid TE.
Per Over the Cap, the total value on Njoku's new contract is the fourth-most among tight ends behind the San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle, the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce and the Philadelphia Eagles' Dallas Goedert, respectively.
The $28 million in guarantees is fifth behind the Atlanta Falcons' Kyle Pitts, the New England Patriots' Jonnu Smith, the Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews and Kittle.
Njoku was set to play on the franchise tag before the deal.
Another big-name tight end, the Dallas Cowboys' Dalton Schultz, is set to play on the tag, though. The ex-Stanford star broke out in 2021 with 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. That followed a 63/615/4 campaign in 2020.
The 2018 fourth-rounder has provided tremendous value as a Day 3 pick to the point where he's one of the best tight ends in the game. Schultz finished third in receptions, sixth in receiving yards and fifth in touchdowns at the position last year.
There's little reason to believe that Schultz isn't worthy of a contract of Njoku's value at minimum. Njoku had to split snaps with Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant last year, recording 36 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns.
While Bryant is still in Cleveland, Hooper is now with the Tennessee Titans.
Njoku can certainly live up to his contract with more playing time as a true TE1, and he could have plenty left in the tank at just 25 years old.
Still, Schultz, 25, has proved to be a better offensive weapon, and any contract talk should start with Njoku's deal as the baseline.
The gold standard for tight ends is Kittle's five-year, $75 million contract ($30 million guaranteed). Schultz isn't in the three-time Pro Bowler's tier, but he deserves a contract that breaks $60 million in total value after being one of the key pass-catching weapons on the NFL's top-scoring offense last year.
The best guess for a Schultz deal: four years, $64 million, $30 million guaranteed.