The Browns will open the 2022 NFL season with extra depth at quarterback, thanks to Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension. They’ll also have added help at tight end, agreeing to terms Sunday on a one-year contract with former Steelers starter Jesse James, according to ESPN.
Cleveland invested top dollar in the position earlier this offseason, franchise tagging and then extending No. 1 tight end David Njoku on a four-year, $54.75 million deal that makes him the fifth-highest-paid player at the spot. They did not keep a third tight end on the initial 53-man roster following final cuts, however, so James gives them veteran insurance behind backup Harrison Bryant.
Bryant is entering his third season with the Browns after coming out of Florida Atlantic as a fourth-round pick in 2020. He scored three touchdowns in each of his first two years, making 12 combined starts in place of Njoku. The latter, picked 29th overall in 2017, has flashed as a play-making pass catcher but also battled injuries, missing 16 games from 2019-2021.
James, 28, has played sparingly in recent years but offers seven years of experience. He was last seen with the Bears, starting nine games with a limited receiving role in 2021, and spent the previous two seasons with the Lions. He’s best known for a four-year run with the Steelers, who drafted him in 2015, succeeding two-time Pro Bowler Heath Miller as Pittsburgh’s primary target at the position. His best year came in 2018, when he posted a career-best 423 yards on 30 catches.