David Njoku gets tagged by the Browns

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The Cleveland Browns still believe David Njoku can be a tight superstar. The team named Njoku a franchise player on Monday, making him the first player to receive the franchise tag for the 2022 NFL season.

NFL teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to assign a player a franchise tag. People who receive the franchise tag will remain under contract with their team at a high salary. Tagged players generally receive a salary equal to the average salary of the 5 highest paid players in their position.

Teams can designate whether the player receives an exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag. A player who receives a franchise-exclusive tag can only negotiate a deal with the team that tagged him. Players who receive the non-exclusive franchise tag can negotiate with other teams, but their original team has the option to match an offer the player receives in free agency. If the team does not match, they receive draft pick compensation for the departing player.

Teams typically use the franchise tag on elite players who would command a big contract in the market. Some teams use the tag as a way to keep those players for an extra season. Other teams will use the franchise tag as a temporary fix while the team works out a long-term extension with that player.

David Njoku becomes the first tagged franchise player in 2022

Njoku was selected by the Browns as the No. 29 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He played 65 games with the team, hauling in 148 catches for 1,754 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The franchise tag is expected to allow Njoku, 25, to return to the team on a one-year deal worth nearly $11 million, per Spotrac. Njoku expressed a desire to stay with the Browns long term, so it’s possible the tag was a precursor to a bigger deal. The Browns did not specify whether Njoku received an exclusive or non-exclusive tag.

The Browns still have Austin Hooper under contract, although Kevin Stefanski’s offense relies on two tight ends. Njoku has played almost as many snaps as Hooper in 2021, although Njoku’s snap count could increase given how much the Browns value his ability.

David Njoku will return to the Browns in 2022. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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