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Gary Barnidge signs new deal with Cleveland Browns

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Still in the midst of a fairy tale 2015 season, Gary Barnidge is already reaping the benefits. The former Louisville tight end signed a contract extension with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday that will, assumedly, pay him handsomely.

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."

Although the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, it's safe to say that Gary is reaping the benefits of his breakout year. Few people deserve it more.