The media often create a narrative because it makes sense in theory, or because they get a lead on a story, either way, this spells trouble for David Njoku.
The folks at ESPN have a new column up that details potential names who could be gone from their respective NFL teams before the next NFL season starts. In a surprise to no one paying attention, the Cleveland Browns were given David Njoku. Cited as the reason for their hypothesis is Njoku’s falling out of favor with the last regime, and losing the trust of franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield. The article spins it as a “Njoku could use a fresh start” but in actuality, it’s that Njoku has yet to develop as a good pass-catching tight end.
The odds of the team moving on from Njoku are high. Numerous sites and experts predict the Browns to be a big player to get former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry. You’re not paying Henry to come in to teach Njoku but to replace him. If those rumors are true and the Browns get the oft-injured, but highly talented Henry, there’s no reason to keep Njoku. He’s already shown to have attitude issues so taking a backup role isn’t something he’s likely to take in stride. On top of that, if the word around the water cooler is true and Mayfield doesn’t have faith in him anymore, why would you keep him around?
Now, fans will start screeching “…takes tight ends years to be good!”, and my favorite “…you can’t give up on Njoku, he’s got so much potential!” but in reality, tight ends don’t need multiple years to be good. If quarterbacks can adapt to the league in two years, so can tight ends. Secondly, potential is great when it’s actualized. It’s a waste when it’s not. Njoku was the second target on the 2018 Browns and still only mustered 639 yards and four touchdowns. This after being picked arguably too high in the 2017 draft.
Moving on from Njoku makes sense. Moving on from a lot of players makes sense if your goal is to rebuild the image of the team and strengthen the brand. Let’s hope this new ownership staff puts quality characters ahead of potential playmakers.