(The OBR will do a position-by-position review of each of the Browns positions as the team heads toward the 2015 season. The fourth part will be the tight end position.)
After a breakout season in 2013 that resulted in a Pro Bowl appearance, Jordan Cameron struggled for most of the 2014 season. He suffered a shoulder sprain in the preseason and then missed five games during the season with a concussion.
Cameron played in 10 games and averaged 17.7 yards per catch to lead all of the NFL’s tight ends. He had three catches of 40 or more yards.
However, Cameron becomes a free agent in March and with his history of concussions that could devalue him on the free agent market. Ideally, Cameron wants to play on the West Coast and if the Browns choose to go after him they will likely have to overpay.
Garry Barnidge and Jim Dray were solid role players and did a good job in the blocking schemes. Both players made big catches during the season.
Here’s a summary of the trio of tight ends on the current roster.
Jordan Cameron — Cameron’s production from 2013 dropped from 80 receptions to 24 receptions and his yardage totals went from 917 yards to 424 yards. He had seven touchdowns in 2013 and just two in 2014. Cameron’s biggest play of the season was an 81-yard touchdown catch against the Panthers. In that game, he finished with three catches for 88 yards.
Jim Dray — Dray played all 16 games, including eight starts. He finished with 17 receptions for 242 yards (14.2 avg.) and one touchdown. Dray caught three passes for 25 yards and a score in the Browns comeback win over the Titans. He also caught three passes for 45 yards against the Bills.
Gary Barnidge — Barnidge played in 13 games and finished with 13 receptions for 156 yards (12.0 avg.). Barnidge missed three games with a rib injury. His biggest game was a four reception, 41 yard game in the win over the Saints. Barnidge had two big catches in two wins. The first was a 10-yard reception on fourth down in the game-winning drive against the Saints. The other was a 15-yard reception in the final drive against the Falcons that set up the game-winning field goal.
Summary: The biggest decision the Browns have to decide is on what to do with Cameron as he heads to free agency. Barnidge and Dray are solid role players who are more blocking tight ends that receiving. The Browns will need to add a receiving tight end if they lose Cameron in free agency.
(Next up: We’ll take a look at the offensive line)