(Update: Browns CEO Joe Banner confirms that the team has agreed to terms with Barnidge)
The Cleveland Browns are expected to sign free agent tight end Gary Barnidge, Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer reports.
— Joe Person (@josephperson) March 13, 2013
Barnidge, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, has a connection to Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski. He played in all 16 games in 2012, hauling in six passes — on six targets — for 78 yards and a touchdown. The 27-year old is a big target at 6-feet-5-inches and will likely provide inexpensive depth at the depleated tight end position in Cleveland. He was the fifth-round selection by the Panthers in 2008 and made just $615,000 last season.
A seam-stretcher, Barnidge provides speed and atleticism and was said to have fit into Rob Chudzinski’s offense when the two shared time in Carolina. The Panthers were really high on Barnidge’s potential as a downfield threat before he broke his ankle in the second preseason game in 2011. Given offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s penchant for including tight ends in the passing game, this signing makes complete sense.
[Related: NFL Free Agency: A 2013 Version of “Plan B?”]