Browns’ tight end David Njoku wants to stick around.
To say that David Njoku’s tenure with the Browns’ has been up and down would be an understatement. A former first-round pick, Njoku has not been shy about being unhappy in Cleveland in the past. His discontent even led to him being in the dog house in the 2019 season, alongside Rashard Higgins. Trade rumors popped up after that, and his poor play for a first-round pick ended up leading the Browns to sign Austin Hooper and draft Harrison Bryant.
Both men were expected by the fanbase and national experts to be the reason that Cleveland moved on from Njoku eventually. He was all but out of Cleveland at this point.
Then he fired his agent.
With Njoku back with a different agent, the tone has changed considerably. Now Njoku wants to stay in Cleveland and help be part of a winning franchise. It’s very possible that Njoku was originally fueled by his agent pushing for more money and a general desire by Njoku to be in a better situation than Cleveland during the Freddie Kitchens era. Now, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
David Njoku has value for Cleveland but only at the right price.
The Browns are already choking on bad contracts with Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, Austin Hooper, and Case Keenum, so the last thing they need to do is throw big gobs of cash at Njoku. Not with Baker Mayfield expected to land a meaty contract soon and with three of the five offensive linemen needing new deals in the next two years.
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Cleveland has proven that it’s the offensive line, not skilled positions, that makes the offense go. So they need to be a priority. Not only that, but with Hooper’s contract being one that is so bad, the Browns have no chance of trading or releasing him anytime soon. So unless outperforms his 2020 season by a lot, he’s going to be a deal that the team is stuck with for a while.
The Browns really can’t afford to pay for Mayfield, Jack Conklin, Wyatt Teller, and Njoku, while also paying for two over-priced receivers, a running back, and a tight end who’s yet to prove his worth. That’s not even talking about the big contracts that Denzel Ward will likely have offered to him either.
If Njoku wants to come back on a team-friendly deal, then he should absolutely be brought back. Who wouldn’t want a player who wants to be somewhere specific, right? Yet, just him wanting to be in Cleveland long-term isn’t the only thing that matters.
What’s his price? As a tight end goes, Njoku has not lived up to the hype. Think about Joe Schobert, a former Pro Bowler, who was let go for a difference of a million dollars or so, and realize that Njoku doesn’t have the same consistency with his production. Does Njoku realize this, or is he going to expect big money? That will be the key to his future in Cleveland.
Balancing an NFL salary cap is as close to an Olympic sport as you can get without it actually being a sport. It’s a job many want, but few would be able to do, so good luck to GM Andrew Berry as he weighs the pros and cons of re-signing Njoku.