As Cabot notes, the 25-year-old is currently away from the team during OTAs while negotiations continue. The team used the franchise tag on him in March, which would pay him $10.9MM in the absence of a long-term deal. The move was seen as something of a surprise, given Njoku’s inconsistent production and the presence (at the time) of Austin Hooper.
With the latter out of the picture now, and the arrival of Deshaun Watson at quarterback, expectations are high for the former first round pick. The Browns have maintained their desire to keep Njoku in the fold, and the two sides were engaged in contract talks at the beginning of April. The fact that the Miami product is the undisputed No. 1 at his position on one hand, and his career-high in receiving yards being just 639 on the other, make this situation an intriguing one.
Cabot adds (via Twitter) that the sides are “very close” on the matter of the deal’s average value of around $13MM. That figure is right in line with the amount reported last week, and would move Njoku into the top five in the league in terms of annual compensation. Cabot reports that the main impediment to a contract being finalized is the matter of guaranteed money, but that the deal could finalized by the end of the week.
If it does get done, that would place even higher expectations on Njoku within the Browns’ new-look offense. It would also likely have a notable ripple effect on the contract demands of Mike Gesicki and Dalton Schultz, whom the Dolphins and Cowboys, respectively, franchise tagged this offseason as well.