Tight end David Njoku has been fairly quiet since the Cleveland Browns traded up to get him in 2017. The Browns traded their second-round pick and a fourth-round pick with the Green Bay Packers to move up to pick no. 29 in order to select him. In 2018-19 Njoku had 639 yards and four touchdowns. This past season he only had five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown because he missed 12 games because of a broken wrist.
On July 3, Njoku made news when it came out that he asked the Browns to trade him. This wasn’t the first time that Njoku is rumored to be traded, but this time official request he has made with the team. The Browns’ offense doesn’t necessarily need Njoku because the team signed Austin Hooper to a contract making him the highest-paid tight end in the league. However new Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski has a history of using two tight ends sets and the combination of Hooper and Njoku would definitely intimidate defenses.
If the Browns explore moving Njoku here on some teams who could be interested in trading for him.
Continue Building an Offense
Team: Washington Redskins
Compensation: Ryan Kerrigan
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins drafted the best player available with the second overall pick in Chase Young. Young’s ceiling is outstandingly high. However, the team appears to be set at edge rusher with Ryan Kerrigan and last year’s first-round pick Montez Sweat already on the roster. Since Kerrigan will be turning 33 and will be a free agent after the season Washington could explore the possibility of moving him. Earlier this offseason, the Browns attempted to sign Jadeveon Clowney, but Clowney refused to sign with the team. Adding Kerrigan would give the Browns an extremely talented edge rusher to rotate with Olivier Vernon to play opposite Myles Garrett. It may seem like a luxury, but with $37 million available in cap space, the Browns can afford to take Kerrigan’s almost $12 million cap hit.
The Redskins offense is lacking playmakers. Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins struggled last year and might repeat that performance due to the offensive pieces around him. Last year’s third-round pick Terry McLaurin showed star potential and will likely be the team’s number one receiver. But after that, the offense has some big questions. Steve Sims Jr., Kelvin Harmon, Cody Latimer, Trey Quinn and rookie fifth-round pick Antonio Gandy-Golden are expected to compete for number two receiver reps. All of them except for Latimer were a Day three draft selection and Latimer hasn’t really played up to his second-round selection as well. The Redskins have even bigger questions at tight end after moving on from Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Jeremy Sprinkle is the expected tight end starter as well. But like the receivers Sprinkle is a former Day three selection whose ceiling isn’t that large. Adding Njoku could give Dwayne Haskins a security blanket and a true number two receiver in this offense. Considering both of their ages they could play with either for a majority of their careers.
Replacing a Legend
Team: Dallas Cowboys
Compensation: Compensatory 4th round pick
The first team that appeared as a potential destination for David Njoku was the Dallas Cowboys. According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Dallas Cowboys “might have some interest” in the tight end. Already this offseason the Cowboys extended Blake Jarwin who expects to be the starter this season. The team also lost long time tight end and Cowboys legend Jason Witten during free agency to the Las Vegas Raiders. Witten accounted for 529 receiving yards last season. The Cowboys could use a receiving option as the team’s number two tight end to throw off opponents when they are in a running formation. Dallas has been a run-heavy team for a couple of seasons now their offense has been one of the best in the league but also very predictable. Njoku would give the Cowboys more upside than Jarwin as a receiver and could become the team’s number one tight end in time
Cowboys Insider Mike Fisher shut down any speculation about Njoku being moved to Dallas claiming the team isn’t interested in acquiring him. But in the past, there have been instances where a team claims not to be interested in acquiring a player and does at a later date. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was one of those circumstances. Especially if the price is only a Day three draft pick.
Getting Rodgers some help
Team: Green Bay Packers
Compensation: Compensatory 4th and 6th round picks
After a 13-3 season and an NFC Championship appearance, the Green Bay Packers’ biggest needs seemed to be the pass catchers for Aaron Rodgers. Number one receiver Davante Adams is one of the best in football, but after him, there are a lot of question marks. During free agency, the team released Jimmy Graham after two seasons and signed Devin Funchess to a one-year contract after he missed the last 15 games of the year with a broken collarbone. During the draft, the Packers added a running back A.J. Dillon in the second round and tight end Josiah Deguara in the third. However, Deguara is expected to be the team’s fullback this season rather than a tight end. They did not address the receiver position at all during the draft.
On the Packers’ current depth chart Marcedes Lewis is listed as the team’s number one tight end. But the 15-year veteran has just been a blocking tight end for a couple of years now. Last year’s third-round pick Jace Sternberger is expected to be the team’s number one pass-catching tight end. Sternberger only had one target last season in the six games that he played. Njoku would give the Packers a legitimate number two option for Aaron Rodgers and a safer option as a receiving tight end than Sternberger. Though Rodgers has a history of ignoring his tight ends at times, Njoku could be one of the better receiving options on the entire team.
Increase Speed at Every Position
Team: Carolina Panthers
Compensation: 4th and 5th round picks
New Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule has molded the team’s offense into his own image. He replaced Cam Newton with Teddy Bridgewater, traded away Trai Turner for Russell Okung and signed Robby Anderson. His biggest goal his to make the team faster. The team already has elite speed in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel on offense. Anderson is considered one of the better deep threats in the league and he will be joining the receiving core as well. However, there is one position the Panthers did not upgrade and that is tight end. After letting go of longtime Panther Greg Olsen, the Panthers have stuck with Ian Thomas as the team’s starter at the position. He has only started nine games in his career and has three touchdowns during that time. Thomas could be a solid tight end, but now that they are playing in arguably the hardest division in football, should the Panthers settle. David Njoku is a more talented and faster tight end than Thomas.
If the Panther can trade minimal draft capital to acquire Njoku and make him the team’s starting tight end they can say they did everything in their power to have Teddy Bridgewater succeed. They got him an established left tackle, a third big-play receiver, a new security blanket tight end, and they already had Christian McCaffrey on their roster. Njoku fits the Panthers mold of young, fast and filled with upside. He would be a perfect addition to this offense. It is hard to imagine the Panthers finishing close to the bottom of the league again with names like Bridgewater, Njoku, Anderson, Samuel and D.J. Moore on offense to go with their renovated defense.
Make another run at the Super Bowl
Team: San Fransisco 49ers
Compensation: 3rd round pick
This may seem unnecessary considering the San Fransisco 49ers already have the best tight end in football George Kittle. But this offseason, the 49ers made a run at Austin Hooper according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver. The team was interested in pairing Hooper with Kittle. The team was not successful in signing Hooper, but they could trade for Njoku, who plays on Hooper’s current team, to be their new no. 2 tight end. Trading as high of a draft pick as a third-rounder for him wouldn’t be ridiculous either considering they gave up a third and fourth-round pick to rent Emmanuel Sanders for 10 games.
The 49ers current backup tight end is Ross Dwelley who started four games alongside Kittle and two games when Kittle was out. During one of the games, Kittle missed Dwelley caught two touchdowns, but the 49ers could upgrade their second tight end position. Adding Njoku is an absolute luxury, but it would get the 49ers one step closer to a Super Bowl Victory. After losing the Super Bowl the 49ers replaced veterans DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders with rookie first-round picks Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk. Njoku would join Aiyuk, Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon as one of the team’s top weapons for Jimmy Garoppolo. Also with Deebo Samuel expected to miss time because of a broken foot, another weapon could soften the blow of losing their number one wide receiver.
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots
Since Rob Gronkowski retired after the 2018-19 season the Patriots have been linked to seemingly every tight end who has become available. The Patriots are unlikely to trade for Njoku because even though he would be an upgrade over current starter Matt LaCosse, the team drafted two tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the third round. The team would likely rather give Asiasi and Keene an opportunity at the starting job before trading away draft capital for a player like Njoku.