David Njoku Requests Trade; Cowboys Interested?

Browns tight end David Njoku has requested a trade, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the team is not looking to move him and would likely ask for a first-round pick if it were to swing a deal. But Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client is intent on a trade and wants it to happen before training camp opens.

Njoku’s stance is perfectly reasonable. The Browns signed Austin Hooper to be their TE1 this offseason, and while the club exercised Njoku’s fifth-year option for 2021 earlier this year, that option is guaranteed for injury only. So it’s easy to foresee a scenario in which Njoku cedes snaps to Hooper, doesn’t look like a major part of the offense, and has his option declined, which would make him a UFA without a ton of bargaining power.

On the other hand, a trade now would perhaps allow the 23-year-old Miami product to get a fresh start as the top TE target elsewhere, which could in turn make him a candidate for a lucrative multi-year extension. As Cabot (via Twitter), Njoku just fired his prior agent, Malki Kawa, two days ago, and hired Rosenhaus, who wasted no time in making a characteristically bold move.

Njoku’s size and speed combination made him a tantalizing first-round prospect in 2017, when the Browns snapped him up with the No. 29 overall selection. He started to live up to some of his promise in 2018, when he started 14 games and caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four TDs. Unfortunately, a wrist injury wiped out most of his 2019 season, and the Browns could not resist the chance to add Hooper when free agency opened earlier this year.

Given his age and upside, Njoku profiles as a very intriguing trade target for a TE-needy club, especially since he is due just $1.76MM this year. Even his fifth-year option salary checks in at just north of $6MM, so the Browns should not have difficulty finding a trade partner. But new head coach Kevin Stefanski runs an offense that frequently features two-TE sets, so it makes sense that Cleveland would ask for a first-round pick in return.

One of Cabot’s sources say the Cowboys could have interest in Njoku. Dallas added to its receiving corps already by drafting talented wideout CeeDee Lamb in the first round, but its TE depth chart is currently topped by fourth-year pro Blake Jarwin. Jarwin performed reasonably well as the Cowboys’ TE2 behind Jason Witten in 2019, but Njoku would represent a clear upgrade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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62 comments on “David Njoku Requests Trade; Cowboys Interested?

  1. IUFB Fan

    He’d be a good replacement for Gronk in NE. Or Tampa Bay could go after him and try to recreate Gronk & Hernandez, but without the murdery part.

          • IUFB Fan

            Excuse me? Teams don’t make trades to try to improve on what they already have? I didn’t say they were going to do it. I said it specifically because of the connection to Gronk and his history of being paired with a freakishly athletic TE (and Njoku is freakishly athletic) and their ability to dominate with Tom Brady. Good grief. Understand the context before you judge someone’s intelligence.

            • jkoms57

              Njoku is terrible and everyone in the nfl is freakishly athletic

              The bucs have 3 TEs

              • IUFB Fan

                See my other reply to you about Njoku being “terrible.” You seem to struggle with what a productive TE is. Most aren’t 1,000 yd receivers.
                Howard was discussed as a trade piece almost all of last season so I’m not sure why you think the Bucs are set at that position.

                • Ak185

                  All good points. At this point, it’s a potential versus scenery question for him. There are a number of teams who’d be interested in him if he were free today. The real question is how much they’d give up for him.

        • cka2nd

          He did his first two years, which is why I wouldn’t write him off. And the team did exercise their fifth-year option on him only two months ago.

    • DTD_ATL

      Howard and Brate are behind Gronk. Both have been productive and with Arians Njoku wouldn’t do anything anyways.

      • cka2nd

        Yeah, Arians’ history with TE usage is decidedly unenthusiastic, so Brady would be the only real attraction for TE’s to go to TB.

  2. jacobsigel1025

    Njoku will look good in NE or GB. With the demand possibly lowering his trade value, I wouldn’t expect anything more than a 3rd or 4th.

    • bradthebluefish

      Would GB actually utilize him? Always seems like GB underutilizes their TE.

  3. crosseyedlemon

    The Bears are concerned about their lack of TE depth and will make Cleveland an offer.

  4. Ak185

    This is not surprising. After the Hooper signing, Njoku lost whatever role he’d have had. He’s a great receiver and extremely athletic, but he cannot block and that’s not what you want from a TE2.

    He would be great in GB, I agree. Their starter for the last few years hasn’t been a blocker and Marcedes Lewis is still available for them if they decide they want one there. Sternberger certainly isn’t a blocker either, but signing Njoku would certainly remove him from the equation. Carolina might have a role for him, but I have no idea how exactly their new offense will work (mostly how much they’ll want their TEs to block). Miami would be great, especially if he can give Tua a good outlet whenever he starts. New England I think will want its TEs to block too much this year to be interested, but last year may have taken the option (plus they just spent some draft capitol there). Njoku is young enough and on his rookie deal so he can make sense for a rebuilding team as well as a contender.

    • Patrick N.

      He’s not that great a receiver. Even when healthy he has had drop problems

      • Ak185

        True, but that’s the kind of player he is. We can argue about his quality, but he is a young athletic receiver. That’s the type of player he is at the position, and if someone trades for him, that’s how they’ll use him.

        With a player that age, you bet as a team that he’ll adjust his game to be more consistent at the pro level. Obviously he might not do that, but on the other hand, he is a notable talent athletically, so some team might take the risk and bet that their coaching/environment can change the problem. Basically, a lot of players have drops or fumbles at the NFL level early on. The good ones get over that.

        • jeb39999

          No team is going to pay a 1st rounder for his lack of production/consistency with the chance he is available in free agency next year anyway. I would bet he isn’t going anywhere

  5. bigjonliljon

    He’s not going anywhere. The Browns have no reason to trade him and he’s going to be a part of the 2 TE offence. He’s shown promise… that’s about it. It’s not like he has proven himself in a large sample size to be a stud. He may some day, but he really hasn’t yet.
    Live by the contract you signed dude!

    • I give no fox

      You can’t fault a guy for this. Rookie contracts are set in stone so it’s not like he had much of a choice. Last time I checked, owners sign the contracts too. you don’t hear anyone crying foul when they release a player before their contract expires.

    • Ak185

      I would agree, but Njoku only really had a choice in signing his deal, not the terms or the team. I have nothing against the way rookie deals work, but it’s a little different being unhappy with your team or your deal when you don’t get a say in negotiations. So I don’t fault him the same way I would Antonio Brown, for example.

  6. Michael Chaney

    He probably wasn’t going for more than a 4th before this, and now it’s probably a 5th or 6th at best. But Stefanski loves tight ends, and I see no reason that he and Hooper couldn’t both produce this year. This is the same guy who used both Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. last year.

    Harrison Bryant is a good talent, but young tight ends usually need time to adjust anyway and he also came from a non-power 5 school.

    • jkoms57

      Njoku couldn’t make an impact as a TE1, what makes you think he’d be of any use as a TE2

      • IUFB Fan

        Barely played last year due to injury, but in 2018 Njoku was 8th among TE in receiving yards and had 4 TDs. You think a guy that was better than a majority of the TE1’s in the league didn’t make an impact? And he wouldn’t be valued as a TE2? Who doesn’t know anything about football?

      • Ak185

        Some players work better in different roles. Not all receivers thrive as a number one, right? Plus last year’s regime obviously did not impact him well. Whether it’s fair or not, players’ mentality affects their effectiveness on the field. A trade to a better coaching staff and a fresh change of scenery could help possibly.

  7. High bidder only. Njoku is signed and is expected to play. Rosenhaus will be making many GM enemies soon. Not a position of strength.

  8. I demand Njoku get traded as well. I would think a conditional 4th is about right. He’s not a very good football player. Can’t block, bad hands, missed assignments, etc. I thought Njoku would benefit from Stephanski’s offense, even being the 2nd TE involved in that offense.

  9. Austin0723

    Arizona maybe? Give Kyler a TE and add to the offense a little more couldn’t hurt

  10. Brownsfan83

    Yes send him to Dallas for Cornerback jourdan Lewis and wide receiver ventell Bryant who’s on the cowboys practice squad plus a second rd pick

  11. Simmons>Russ

    David Njoku and Oliver Vernon for Geno Atkins

    Browns have a loaded offence and if they want to make a push for/in the playoffs they need to improve on defence and with some experience. Atkins would provide both experience and quality to the defence.

    Upfront they would have Atkins Richardson and Garrett and out back they would have Ward Williams Delpit and Joseph. Which would make them good against the run and against the throw.

    For the bengals they would revive Njoku who is young and promising enough to add to that young offence and help Burrow. It also get them out of Atkins contract which for a rebuilding tam isn’t exactly that favourable, whereas Vernon is on an expiring deal and would free up money next offseason

    • There is no guaranteed money left for vernon. This is why they were interested in Clowney. They could simply cut Vernon and save money and get Clowney.

      In the end is njoku and vernon worth Atkins and 14M+ per year for his mid 30’s or about 8 or so mil in dead cap if they cut him and he is already trending downwards.

      Or they could cut vernon offer up 12 or maybe 13m to clowney on a one year full guarantee and take a chance he can play a full season and then trade njoku for a 3rd or most likely 4th rounder in future draft and save money with having cap flexibility next year. Especially with who knows what the cap will be like next year.

      Im leaning towards the latter. I think you could pry a conditional 3rd from a team dependent on games played or something along those lines and i think 13m fully guaranteed with an agreement they cant franchise him will get a deal done. Its a bit of an overpay but the money your are saving from vernon and the cap still available to them is the best option.

      • Ak185

        An interesting proposal, Simmons>Russ, but I agree with what Roll said. Great analysis of opportunity costs versus immediate value.

        Also consider the presence of Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson in the interior. They’re pretty good as a combo, and one would have to go or move into a rotational role to allow Atkins a place. It wouldn’t be Ogunjobi, because he is younger and a homegrown pick, and Richardson’s free agent money is too much to justify a rotational role.

        I do think it’s at least an intriguing proposal to think about though. Thanks for posting it.

  12. Brownsfan83

    Simmons>Russ what’s up man I actually like that deal because we need help on defense really bad and we can have a top flight defensive tackle like Atkins happy 4th of July everyone be safe

  13. wagner13

    There’s no way anyone’s giving up a first rounder for a potential two years of an underachieving tight end. That’s basically suggesting Njoku’s value hasn’t slipped since being selected in 2017. I understand the Browns are reluctant to trade him, but you can’t be that picky in case the dude refuses to play

    • I don’t get the vibe Cleveland is reluctant to trade him. They signed a high priced TE, drafted another and still have Carlson on the roster. He’s expendable and not very good. May as well trade him for whatever you can get.

      • wagner13

        Yeah, but Stefanski likes running dual tight end sets and his struggles are exaggerated by his injury history

  14. ab3b29

    First rounder? Yea that is wishful thinking. Too inconsistent and injury prone. Maybe a third or fourth rounder. Especially considering he’ll be a free agent after the season. Sorry and nice try Brownies.

    • cka2nd

      I don’t follow the Browns, but how is he injury prone? Pro Football Reference doesn’t list him on the Browns’ 2017 injury reports at all, and he was only on the 2018 injury reports for two games. As for inconsistency, Pro Football Focus had overall grades for him of 66.4 in 2017 and 66.3 in 2018, before he (49.8) and the team disappointed in 2019 and he missed most of the season.

  15. Blackjackscout

    I’m glad he fired his former agent. That guy really sucked to let him get into a position like this.

    • What would his new agent have done differently?

      Tell the Brown’s ownership and management and scouting teams that you are not allowed to sign the number 1 tight end free agent because you have my guy that under performed last year? He will be better i promise.

      I know i have no leverage other than to hold out while the guy you just signed that out performed me in pretty much every way gets takes my spot. Or the backup / 2 TE sets that my coach interchanges with goes to the rookie we just drafted?

      Oh i know demand to be traded after my worst season yet as a TE and have them choose between a most likely day 3 pick or risk me hold out over my pittance of a rookie scale contract.

      Personally i would embrace the 2TE set the coach likes to use Njoku being a better case catcher than blocker will probably play towards his benefit as he will get a ton of open looks with landry, obj, and hooper demanding more of the d attn and then you got chubb or hunt in the backfield. You can use hooper whom i believe is a better blocker to help line as needed with hooper spilling out on the other side of the line with probably a good amount of open space.

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