The Cleveland Browns made a brash decision relying on only two tight ends in 2022.
The Cleveland Browns need help at tight end. It all started when they opted to cut Austin Hooper in the summer of 2022 and then later Stephen Carlson. Cutting both men hurt the Browns’ blocking schemes in 2022, as they were the team’s two best blockers. The two remaining tight ends who played a significant amount of time ended up being David Njoku and Harrison Bryant. Bryant isn’t a great blocker but he’s got more leverage than Njokua at the point of contact.
Njoku, despite being a massive mound of a man, is not a good run blocker at all, and that prompted the team to re-sign former tight end Pharaoh Brown to help fortify the blocking. Njoku put up his worst PFF numbers when it comes to run-blocking with a 52.4, Brown had a 62, and Bryan a 62.1
The Browns are not only going to need to bolster the run-blocking aspect of the position, but they’re also going to want to get a better receiver at the position too. Bryant is inconsistently used and you really don’t know what he can offer long-term, and Njoku has proven to be wildly inconsistent entering year seven.
Not only are looking for a better talent to play alongside Njoku and Bryant but the Browns are likely to not bring back the third tight end, Brown. So you’re going to need to look for some depth. We have three free agents that could work for the Browns at the right price.
Three tight ends to consider in 2023
Cameron Brate can be a solid pass-blocker when motivated and properly surrounded but he’s on this list because he’ll likely be the least expensive. Brate is an older player with playoff and Super Bowl experience. He knows what it takes to win and can bring a winning mentality to the team.
If you’re looking for the best all-around option, that is also affordable, that’ is Hayden Hurst. If you’re just looking for the best option, that’s Dalton Schultz. The Browns can’t afford him, but they could afford Hurst, hopefully. He’s not a dynamic run blocker but he’s good enough that you can put him out there and not worry about him getting destroyed, while also having a real target to throw to.
Mike Gesicki is what he is, a decent pass-catching option who runs blocks as well as Njoku. While the onus should be on improving the run-blocking capabilities of the position, you can’t deny that getting a fast tight end with shifty attributes could absolutely help the passing game. He’ll likely not fetch a pretty penny on the free agency market, making him a realistic option if you want to get away from running the ball. After all, the word on the block is that the Browns are revamping their offense. Gesicki could be a huge target for the Browns quarterback in 2023.