Once the news hit, many turned their focus to current Browns tight end David Njoku, who has come up in trade rumors as much speculation swirled about his future in Cleveland. But the former first-round pick isn’t upset over the move for Hooper. In fact, he’s embracing it.
“Nahhhh man cmon I love competition,” Njoku wrote on Twitter, responding to a tweet speculating that he would want a trade more than ever. “We’ll push each other and get better together.”
In just 13 games played last season, Hooper set career highs last season with 75 receptions, 787 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
According to Scott Pioli of CBS Sports, the deal is for four years and $42 million. That would put Hooper just over the $10.6 million annually that Chargers tight end Hunter Henry brings in. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that $23 million is guaranteed for Hooper over the first two years.
Room for Both David Njoku and Austin Hooper in Cleveland
The Browns targeted tight ends just 69 times last year, tied for the fourth-fewest in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats and Information. But that was under the previous Freddie Kitchens regime. New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski had two tight ends on the field 57 percent of the time while calling plays for the Minnesota Vikings as the offensive coordinator, which was the highest rate in the NFL.
Njoku is seeking a bounce-back year after suffering a fractured wrist in Week 2 last season. He battled back into the lineup in Week 14, but dropped a ball that turned into an interception, leading him to be a healthy scratch the next two weeks. He suited up for the Browns final game of the season, but played just four snaps. In all, he had just five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown last season.
Browns Have Decision to Make With David Njoku
Njoku — the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft — is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. In his second season, Njoku essentially doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie year, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Stefanski said of Njoku at the NFL Combine. “I think there’s an obvious skillset there. There’s a reason he was drafted that high. I think you can see it just in his physical ability and it’s a big year for David. I’ve explained that to him. He knows that and a lot of that is going to be up to him and the amount of work he puts into this and we have big plans for him but it’s about, for him, coming back in the building and working and then ultimately being able to see if we can utilize him in a role that can take advantage of some of his skillset.”
Njoku is in the fourth season of his rookie deal and he’ll make $1,763,910 with just $430,000 guaranteed. The Browns still have to make a decision on Njoku’s fifth-year option that would keep him around another season.