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Former Browns TE Gary Barnidge could be an excellent signing for the Patriots

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Also, should the Patriots consider trading for these two former Jets first round picks and 49ers tight end?

The Cleveland Browns selected TE David Njoku with the 29th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft and subsequently notified TE Gary Barnidge that he would be released. This comes as a surprise for a few reasons.

Barndidge turns 32 in September, but he’s recorded 134 receptions (7th for tight ends) for 1,655 yards (6th) and 11 touchdowns (7th) over the past two seasons, catching passes from the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s an excellent blocker and big threat on the deep pass- a skill that wasn’t utilized with a checkdown quarterback in Cody Kessler.

He also signed a three-year extension in the middle of 2015, which means he was released after just one year on his new deal. Barnidge was scheduled to make $3 million in 2017, which is not very much for a skilled tight end- especially when the Browns have all the cap space in the world.

Barnidge still has gas left in the tank and could be a solid veteran addition to the Patriots roster, if they don’t feel the need to add a young developmental player to join Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen (both under contract for three more seasons).

Barnidge is far superior to the current depth trio of Michael Williams, Matt Lengel, and Robert Housler and appears to be available at a reasonable price. If he wants a chance at a ring, he could come join the Patriots for an even cheaper deal- and he’d be an excellent fit.

The former Browns tight end isn’t the only player available on the market right now that could interest the Patriots. San Francisco 49ers TE Vance McDonald is also available, per The Ringer’s Michael Lombardi. McDonald signed an extension in December, but new management doesn’t envision him in their plans.

McDonald signed a three-year, $19.65 million deal with team options for $5.5 million in both 2020 and 2021. However, $7 million of that deal was a signing bonus, which wouldn’t carry over to McDonald’s new team, making the deal worth roughly $4.21 million per season. McDonald’s 2018 salary also becomes fully guaranteed on April 1st, 2018, and $3.2 million of his 2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed on April 1st, 2019.

The tight end would effectively be a year-by-year contract because his new team could simply cut him before guaranteeing his contract or picking up the option. McDonald is not the most productive tight end, but he’s young and is a solid #2 or #3 option for a team. At a 2017 price tag of less than $3 million, McDonald could be another cheap alternative at the position.

The Jets are also shopping two former first round picks in DL Sheldon Richardson and SS Calvin Pryor, per USA Today’s Tom Pelissero- and both could come at an affordable price.

Richardson was the 13th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft and is scheduled to play the 2017 season under his fifth-year option valued at $8.07 million. When focused, the 26-year-old defensive lineman is one of the most disruptive players in the entire league, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year distinction in 2013 and a Pro Bowl nod in 2014.

However, Richardson was suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for marijuana and was suspended for another game in 2016 for getting arrested. He has been a major negative in the Jets locker room over the course of his career.

Pryor was the 18th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and is entering his fourth season; the Jets have not yet picked up his fifth-year option. Pryor appeared to be an ascending star with great run defense as a rookie and improved pass coverage in 2015, offering value as a prototypical in-the-box safety.

Unfortunately, Pryor took a major step back in 2016 as CB Darrelle Revis and the entire Jets secondary fell to pieces. Perhaps Pryor could reclaim his potential with a different team.

A mid-round pick could be a reasonable option if the Patriots believe that Pryor or Richardson offers more talent than the players left on the draft board late in the fourth round or into the fifth round. The question is whether the Jets would be willing to send these players to New England.

Of these four players listed, which would you be most interested in adding?

Poll

Which player would you prefer to add?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    TE Gary Barnidge
    (889 votes)
  • 2%
    TE Vance McDonald
    (47 votes)
  • 30%
    DL Sheldon Richardson
    (490 votes)
  • 12%
    SS Calvin Pryor
    (195 votes)
1621 votes total Vote Now