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David Njoku wants the Browns to trade him; should the Redskins make an offer?

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Tight end has been a concern for the Redskins team in 2020. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are gone; the front office signed Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers as veteran free agents, which feels like a pretty big step down.

David Njoku’s name has been out there for a while as a potential trade target because of his issues with the Cleveland franchise. Trade talk heated up in March when the Browns signed free agent Austin Hooper to a huge contract. It was reignited when they spent a 4th round draft pick on Harrison Bryant a month later.

Today, however, his name is coming up again because it has been reported that Njoku’s agent has asked the Browns to trade him before training camp, which is scheduled to start in about three weeks.

Back in December, Sports Illustrated published an article titled, Is This The Final Week of David Njoku’s Career in Cleveland?

Coming into the 2019 season, David Njoku was a third year tight end coming off a productive season with the hopes of taking another step closer to realizing his remarkable potential.

Njoku’s 2019 season was marred by a wrist injury that sidelined him for much of the season and even though he is healthy now, he’s inactive on game days with his future as a Brown a question mark.

Njoku’s bizarre year actually began at the NFL Scouting Combine, when an unprompted John Dorsey criticized his blocking. It was bizarre at the time, but given the current situation, it may have been a preview of things to come.

The injury Njoku suffered, breaking the scaphoid in his wrist was largely caused by a late throw from Baker Mayfield against the New York Jets. It put him in a position to get drilled by multiple defenders, leading to the injury.

This is where Njoku may not have helped his own cause. Njoku was presented with two options with how to deal with the injury; rest or surgery. Surgery was a faster process but Njoku was going to be out a minimum of eight weeks regardless of his choice due to being placed on injured reserve. That’s the minimum amount of time a player has to be on IR before a team can designate them to return, which seemed to be the plan as soon as Njoku hit the ground.

The problem for Njoku was he initially chose rest and did that for four weeks before then opting to have the surgery, resulting in a longer recovery.

[T]here is a belief that his resistance to get the surgery right away resulted in a longer recovery, keeping him out an extra few weeks.

This might have created a rift between Njoku and the organization or widened one that was already there. Since being activated, Njoku has reportedly been bad in practice in the periods open to the media according to Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan. Ruiter has said he’s been dropping passes and getting assignments wrong. That reporting was supported by Njoku getting on the field against the Cincinnati Bengals, only to seemingly run the wrong route and have a pass stripped away from him by a defender as they went to the ground, resulting in an interception. That play also led to a heated exchange between head coach Freddie Kitchens and Njoku on the sideline.


Related story:

The seven tight ends on the Redskins training camp roster


In Washington, the Redskins seem to be taking the shotgun approach to the tight end position for 2020, bringing seven players to camp — at least five of whom have a legitimate shot at making the roster at a position that will likely see 3 or 4 players on the eventual regular season depth chart. None of the seven, however, is a clear-cut starting-quality tight end; each of them comes with concerns and question marks.

David Njoku, selected 29th overall in the 2017 draft, would almost certainly be the best player in the group in terms of on-field talent. He had a promising start to his career, and, in 2018, looked to be on-track for a promising career, but it all came unglued in 2019.

Pro Football Reference

The real question is whether his off-the-field issues are specific to the situation he was faced with in Cleveland or whether he is a “problem child” who will poison the locker room and cause issues for the coaches wherever he goes.

Dawg Pound Daily, a website devoted to the Cleveland Browns, put it this way:

Njoku was rumored to be in former head coach Freddie Kitchens’ doghouse for a number of possible reasons, such as his effort level and poor blocking. Maybe it was just a case of two people not liking each other.

Well, Freddie Kitchens is gone, but Njoku wants to be gone too, so his issues went beyond the head coach.

Njoku has a salary of just $1.76m (with $430K guaranteed) in 2020, and the Browns exercised his 5th year option at a cost of $6m. In effect, the salary cap cost for the Redskins would be $7.76m for 2 years ($3.88m APY), which is fairly thrifty for a player with his potential.

Should Ron Rivera get on the phone to Andrew Berry, Cleveland’s new GM, and try to make a deal?

Poll

How do you feel about David Njoku and the Redskins?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Yes! Young and talented - he fits perfectly into the team that Rivera is trying to build, and we really need a talented tight end.
    (615 votes)
  • 23%
    Maybe. We have 7 TEs already, and Njoku may not really be the answer.
    (310 votes)
  • 29%
    No. I don’t want to give up draft picks or players for a guy with his red flag issues.
    (387 votes)
1312 votes total Vote Now