David Njoku doesn’t want to play for the Cleveland Browns anymore.
Though the Browns extended their fifth-year option on the former first-round pick out of the University of Miami this offseason, once they decided to bring in two-time Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper in free agency, it felt like the writing was on the wall for Njoku in Northeast Ohio. He was now expandable and very much Cleveland trade bait.
Cleveland owes Njoku $1,763,877 in base salary this season. He would be a $3,030,714 hit against the cap if he was released by Cleveland in this campaign. While that number is manageable, Njoku would be a $6,013,000 dead-cap hit in 2021, as that’s what he’s slated to make in base salary because of the fifth-year option he was extended.
Though he barely has over 1,000 career receiving yards in three seasons out of Miami, Njoku only turns 24 years old in a week. He dealt with injuries last year and has been thrust in the middle of perpetual chaos for his entire stint in Cleveland. Njoku is about to be playing for his fourth NFL head coach in Kevin Stefanski in only his fourth season out of The U.
With Njoku and his high-profile agent Drew Rosenhaus expressing his desire to be traded, the Browns may have to look hard into dealing him. While they want to keep him around and run absolutely incredible two tight end sets with Hooper, this situation could become untenable if Njoku doesn’t get his way before the start of the season. He may very well be traded in 2020.
Here are five trade destinations for Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku.
We’ve seen how willing Houston Texans head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien is to make a deal. He sent arguably his best player in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for a running back who used to be good but is on a bad contract in David Johnson. O’Brien also orchestrated a traded for often-injured Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Houston already has one of the five most talented quarterbacks in the league in Deshaun Watson still on his rookie contract. Though he has weapons, there aren’t any worth writing home about in Houston. It’s why Watson responded to Cincinnati Bengals legendary wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson about free agent Antonio Brown potentially linking up with the Texans.
The reason Njoku would be a great fit in Houston is he has two years left on his contract at a reasonable number and would be an upgrade over what the Texans have in the tight end room. Though Darren Fells emerged as a viable red-zone target for Watson last season, Njoku was a former first-round pick for a reason. He has much greater upside than Houston’s current No. 1.
By adding a player like Njoku to the Texans receiving corps, it could be a little move that goes a long way towards helping Houston stay in the mix for yet another AFC South crown. The Texans have won their division four of the last five years. While that hasn’t translated to a single AFC title bout appearance, maybe the underrated addition of Njoku could be an agent of change for them?