It was reported last week that Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has communicated with the team his desire to be traded. Heading into his fourth season since being drafted in the first round in 2017, he is under contract through 2021 after the Browns picked up his fifth-year option earlier this year.
According to Jeremy Fowler, this is in spite of the fact that the team has known about his desire to be traded for over a year, which means that this preceded their acquisition of tight end Austin Hooper in free agency earlier this offseason. Fowler also communicates that they believe Njoku may be worth a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
If the Browns do trade Njoku, it would be the second of the three first-round picks from the 2017 NFL Draft class that they have traded. Last offseason, Cleveland included safety Jabrill Peppers as part of a trade to the New York Giants in exchange for wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., which also cost them first- and third-round draft picks.
The other first-round pick from that class, of course, is Myles Garrett, the first-overall selection, whom the team is reportedly in contract talks with, an early extension since he is under contract through 2021, which would likely make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.
Drew Rosenhaus successfully managed a trade for one of his clients with the Browns last year when running back Duke Johnson was granted his request to be traded. He was sent to the Houston Texans for a conditional fourth-round pick. It was to be elevated to a third-round pick if he were active for 10 or more games, and he was.
Cleveland is not strongly motivated to acquiesce to Njoku’s request because the offense being brought in by new head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt runs through a two-tight end base, so he and Hooper would both receive extensive playing time.
Njoku was limited to only four games and a total of 99 snaps during the 2019 season because of a wrist injury. He caught just five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. In his second season the year before that, he caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
In light of the information that Njoku has wanted to be traded for “about a year”, it is perhaps worth reminding that there were multiple reports of players wanting to be traded during that time, including of course Johnson, who was traded, and Beckham.