The Cleveland Browns made tight end David Njoku one of their three first-round draft picks in 2017. By the time he was heading into his third season, according to prior reports, he was already looking for a way out. Earlier this Summer, he formally requested to be traded, but by the time training camp opened, that request was rescinded.
Cleveland is not always the most popular place to play for, and there were rumors swirling throughout the last season that players were expressing their frustrations, even to opposing players, about the state of the organization. It was claimed that Odell Beckham, Jr., for whom they had just traded, was telling opponents to tell their coaches to ‘come get me’ in advance of the trade deadline—that is, to trade for him.
That didn’t happen, and since then Beckham has expressed a renewed commitment to the Browns. So has Njoku, earlier this week, at least after some initial hesitation. After being asked repeatedly about his prior trade request, he used the phrase being a Brown “for the time being” numerous times, prompting additional follow-ups.
Finally, he did clarify, saying, “I’m just speaking on today, now”, adding that he’s not claiming this will be his last year in Cleveland. In fact, with the Browns having picked up his fifth-year option, he is under contract through 2021. “I want to be here long-term”, he said.
The 2019 season was a bleak one for Njoku, however, who missed most of the year due to a wrist injury. He played in parts of just four games, catching five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. In 2018, working with a rookie Baker Mayfield, he caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns, which is very comparable to what the Pittsburgh Steelers got out of Vance McDonald that same year.
Since last season, the Browns have set forth yet another regime change, this time dumping both head coach and general manager, bringing in Andrew Berry to the latter post and Kevin Stefanski to the former, both of whom are on-board with a tight end-heavy offense.
That includes the free agency acquisition of Austin Hooper, who will work with Njoku in two-tight end sets. Given that the Browns’ wide receiver group is dominated by Beckham and Jarvis Landry, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to manage a decent number of 12 personnel packages.