Tight end Gary Barnidge, Cleveland's leader in multiple receiving categories who is in the midst of a career season, signed a contract extension with the Browns on Thursday.
Barnidge, 30, long surpassed his career-best totals in all receiving categories and still has four games to play in 2015. The seventh-year veteran enters Cleveland's Week 14 matchup against the 49ers with a team-high 60 receptions and seven touchdowns. He's second behind Travis Benjamin with 817 receiving yards.
"It's a tremendous honor that Cleveland has the faith in me. I want to be here whenever we turn this thing around. I know we haven't had the season we wanted this year but I'm looking forward to the future and getting everything turned around."
After years of playing behind Pro Bowl tight ends -- first with Greg Olsen in Carolina and then with Jordan Cameron during his first two seasons with the Browns -- Barnidge has flourished as Cleveland's top pass-catching tight end. He's caught at least five passes in eight of the past 10 games and ranks third among NFL tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He's notched three 100-yard games, topping off with 139 in a Week 5 overtime win at Baltimore, and is tied for first in the league among tight ends in third-down receptions (19).
Barnidge is one, 100-yard game away from tying the Browns franchise record for most in a season (Milt Morin, 1968). He's two touchdowns away from tying Ozzie Newsome's franchise record of nine.
"This is good news for both Gary and the Cleveland Browns," Browns General Manager Ray Farmer said. "Gary is someone that does things the right way, both on and off the field. He's a true professional and we are excited to have him remain a Cleveland Brown."
Earlier this month, Barnidge was recognized for his on- and off-the-field work when he was named the Cleveland Browns 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Barnidge helped establish American Football Without Barriers (AFWB, www.AFWBcamp.com), a simple concept with a global impact that brings football to underprivileged kids across the world. Co-founded in 2011 by Barnidge, New York Jets RT Breno Giacomini and college roommate Ahmed Awadallah, the international non-profit aims to develop American football in underprivileged countries. Barnidge is an advocate for OhioGuidestone, a local non-profit organization that aids children and families in Cleveland as it relates to residential care, foster care and community-based services. A movie aficionado who hopes to one day be a movie critic, Barnidge also gives back to Browns fans with a weekly movie giveaway.
"The way Gary goes about his business every single day sets a great example for all of our players," Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine said. "He is a testament of hard work, professionalism and a team-first mentality. I can't say enough positive things about Gary Barnidge."