The Cleveland Browns have tendered contracts to two of their exclusive rights free agents.
The fact that Cleveland tendered contracts to these specific players seems to be a bit telling about their future plans. Let’s start with Gustin and the defensive end position.
There is one free agent at the defensive end position that the Browns could have brought back, Olivier Vernon. Vernon is recovering from a season-ending injury last season and his return for next season could be delayed. While tendering a deal to Gustin does not preclude Cleveland from brining him back, it makes it less likely. The Browns could opt to draft an end in the draft and add to their mix of complimentary end players just to start.
The situation at tight end is a bit more complicated. Carlson is not a starting caliber tight end, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t need one. Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant are firmly entrenched as the top two tight ends on the roster. David Njoku has one-year left on his deal and his desire to remain with the Browns seems lukewarm at best. Cleveland could look to deal Njoku in an effort to clear some cap space and make both parties happy.