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David Njoku agrees to four-year extension worth up to $56.75M

Tight end David Njoku wanted a multiyear commitment.

He finally got it Friday.

The Browns and Njoku agreed to a four-year deal worth up to $56.75 million with $28 million guaranteed, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram. The deal could average $14.19 million a year, ranking fourth among NFL tight ends, according to spotrac.com.

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The Browns and Njoku, the No. 29 pick in 2017, couldn’t agree to a long-term deal before free agency in March, so the Browns used the $10.9 million franchise tag to make sure they kept him. The intention was to continue working toward a longer-term deal, and that was accomplished Friday.

With $28 million guaranteed, the deal will keep Njoku in Cleveland for at least two more years.

“CLEEVEEEELANDDDD THIS IS FOR YOUUU!!!,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “Truly Blessed through it all ! Thank you to the Browns organization and The Haslam Family. Thankful for all my teammates past and present. Thankful for the DAWG POUND for the craaazy energy.”

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Njoku didn’t attend the start of organized team activities this week, as he waited for an agreement to be finalized.

“CHIEF !!!!! BRING YA A** TO WORK NOW,” safety John Johnson III wrote on Instagram.

Njoku’s career arc in Cleveland has been interesting.

He was unhappy after the Browns signed free agent Austin Hooper and drafted Harrison Bryant in 2020 and requested a trade. The team didn’t grant the request. Njoku had a change of heart last year and declared he wanted to continue his career in Cleveland.

“I love it here. I love it here to the core,” he reiterated after the season. “I honestly want to be here for the rest of my career.”

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“Staying home,” he tweeted Friday. “Cleveland thank you I’ll give u everything I got in me!!”

Njoku doesn’t have the resume to match the rest of the highest-paid tight ends — San Francisco’s George Kittle ($15 million a year), Kansas City’s Travis Kelce ($14.3 million) and Philadelphia’s Dallas Goedert ($14.25 million) — but the Browns believe in his potential. He won’t turn 26 until July 10 and has rare speed and jumping ability for the position.

“He’s come a long way. I would say both on and off the field,” general manager Andrew Berry said at the scouting combine in March. “That’s a credit to him and how hard he’s worked. I think he’s close to maturity, and I think as his opportunities increase, his impact will grow.”

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Njoku’s targets should take a big jump this year. The Browns cut Hooper in March, leaving Njoku as the clear-cut No. 1 with Bryant the No. 2. The addition of three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson should also help.

Njoku (6-foot-4, 246 pounds) has shown flashes through his five years but has struggled with inconsistency.

He caught 36 passes for 475 yards, a 13.2 average and a team-high four touchdowns in 16 games last year. In 65 career games, he has 148 catches for 1,754 yards, an 11.9 average and 15 touchdowns.

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The best game of his career came Week 5 last year during a 47-42 loss to the Chargers. He tied a career high with seven catches for a career-high 149 yards, including a 71-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

It’s the only time he’s reached 80 yards in a game, and just the fifth time with five or more catches. The other four came in 2018, when Njoku posted career highs with 14 starts, 56 catches, 639 yards and four touchdowns.

He hasn’t been to a Pro Bowl. In comparison, Kelce is a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro and Kittle a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro.

Njoku is the latest young player to whom the Browns have committed big money over multiple years. Watson signed a record $230 million contract in March, cornerback Denzel Ward signed a five-year, $100.5 million contract in April, guard Joel Bitonio (three years, $48 million) and Wyatt Teller (four years, $56.8 million) signed extensions last season, running back Nick Chubb signed a three-year, $36.6 million extension before the 2021 season and defensive end Myles Garrett signed a five-year, $125 million extension before the 2020 season. Receiver Amari Cooper will receive $20 million a year after being acquired in a trade with the Cowboys in March.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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