Among the many moves the Browns have made, the signing of tight end Darren Fells may be the most intriguing. Fells, who is 31 (turning 32 in April) is getting a three-year deal for $12 million. Before joining the NFL in 2013, he spent 2008-2012 as a professional basketball player overseas after four years of playing college basketball at UC-Irvine.
In his time at UC-Irvine, he started 93 of the 123 games he played as a forward/center. He averaged 10.2 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game. His senior year he played his best as he garnered Second-Team All-Big West honors. After his less-than-stellar professional basketball career, he made his way to the NFL.
In his NFL career, he has played for the Cardinals and Lions. Fells is seen as a blocking tight end, but can also be a contributor in the passing game. Signing Fells means little for the expected production of David Njoku and Seth DeValve, as they are both primarily pass-catching tight ends who don’t need to line up on the line to be productive. For Randall Telfer, this signing may mean the end of his Browns career. Telfer has been the blocking tight end, but has struggled at times and Fells is seen as an upgrade.
Fells is a good run blocker but excels at pass blocking. Signing a good blocking tight end may be more valuable than ever now that the Browns will have a new starter at left tackle after the retirement of Joe Thomas. I think Fells will be lined up many times next to the new left tackle to help block Tyrod Taylor’s blindside. Due to his size, he is a mismatch when a safety is on him and he is especially dangerous in the red zone because of his athleticism. He will bring leadership to a very young group of tight ends and I expect Njoku and DeValve to grow, partially thanks to Fells. All in all, this is a good move for the long-term success of the Cleveland Browns and who knows, maybe he can help the Cavs if Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson don’t come back soon from their injuries.