Cleveland Browns Sign Former Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

Tight end Rico Gathers

The Cleveland Browns have added former Dallas Cowboy tight end Rico Gathers to their training camp roster.

The team announced the move on Sunday, waiving tight end/full back Orson Charles to make room for Gathers. The Cowboys had waived Gathers earlier this month.

Gathers is an interesting prospect. He came into the league with raw athletic ability, but no college football background. During his college basketball career, Gathers was Baylor’s all-time rebound leader.

When the Cowboys took Gathers in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, the team had thoughts he could turn into the next Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates. After three seasons, Dallas came to terms that it probably wasn’t going to be the case and felt comfortable waiving Gathers with two young tight ends and Jason Witten returning to the roster.

Gathers did not get on the field his first two seasons, and his career consists of three catches for 45 yards.

“There were some things to like about him physically,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram following his release. “He worked hard. I think at the end of the day, his inexperience ultimately was the issue with him. It was hard for him to play the way you need to play, play in and play out. Play with the instincts necessary, the temperament necessary to play. Into year four now, ultimately he didn’t show the growth that we wanted. Maybe if he goes somewhere else, he’ll learn from this experience and take advantage of it. Felt like that was best for our team.”

Rico Gathers Suspended for Week 1

If Gathers makes the Browns roster, he’ll miss will the team’s opener against the Tennessee Titans with a one game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

The suspension is linked to a marijuana possession charge against the former Baylor basketball player.

According to the Cowboys official site, last September, hours before the Cowboys made their final roster cuts, Gathers was been arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in the Frisco area.

The Browns are already dealing with suspension to running back Kareem Hunt and second-year wide receiver Antonio Callaway.

Callaway was also suspended for marijuana usage, which led to a firm stance from head coach Freddie Kitchens, making the signing of Gathers just a little bit puzzling.

“We’re not willing to put up with it, OK?’’ Kitchens told reporters. “When you start talking in terms of that, the person that it’s affected has to be willing to commit to doing what’s right. So if he’s willing to commit to doing what’s right, then we’re willing to support him in every way that we can, and that’s what we’re going to do until he proves us wrong.’’

Rico Gathers Similar to Current Browns Tight End David Njoku

GettyCleveland Browns TE David Njoku

Gathers is similar to current Browns tight end David Njoku, as both have tremendous upside as pass-catchers thanks to their athleticism.

Njoku is a physical specimen. He’s massive but can also run a 4.6 40-yard dash. He was taken in the first round of the 2017 draft by the Browns. He has steadily made a name for himself as one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the league.

Last year, Njoku essentially doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie season, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.

However, Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens has been critical of Njoku at training camp. Kitchens didn’t sound too pleased when asked about Njoku’s pass-catching and blocking abilities.

“I think David Njoku needs to get better at both of them,” Kitchens said. “I do not see a finished product there. I do not know what that means. If David flexes out, he is expected to catch the ball. When he is in line, he is expected to block. He is a tight end. He needs to get better at both of them.”

The other tight ends on the Browns depth chart currently include Pharaoh Brown, Stephen Carlson, Mik’Quan Deane, Demetrius Harris and Seth DeValve.

At training camp, Browns tight ends coach John Lilly addressed the possibility of tight ends staying in to block more with the talent the team currently has at the wide receiver position in Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashard Higgins.

“That is obviously kind of a week-to-week, day-to-day game plan type thing, but I would say this, if we feel like we are getting into some situations where we have to keep more guys in, then maybe it is because they are bringing enough guys where they are bold enough to play one on one on some of these guys that are on the edges,” Lilly said. “That is probably good for us if that is happening. The good thing about that room is that they are unselfish. I think everybody at the tight end position knows you get the glory for catching a lot of balls and those kind of things, but at the end of the day, we want to win.”

The Browns continue their preseason against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. At this time, it’s unknown if Gathers will suit up for that game, but he will have to start making an impact immediately if he wants to make the 53-man roster.

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