The Cleveland Browns’ soon-to-be 24-year-old tight end David Njoku is looking for a trade, and the New England Patriots have been mentioned as a possible suitor. Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the tight end position was one of the Patriots’ top needs. New England filled those needs by drafting UCLA’s Devin Asiasi and Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene in the third round.
Both men are considered promising prospects, however, it’s not every day a talent of Njoku’s caliber becomes potentially available. Do the Patriots owe it to themselves to at least explore what it would take to bring Njoku in to be a top option for either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham?
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Njoku and Agent Drew Rosenhaus Demand Trade
ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news on Njoku’s trade demand:
1/2 Browns’ TE David Njoku and his agent Drew Rosenhaus asked today for the team to trade him. The Browns told Njoku they would like to keep him, but Rosenhaus told them he’s intent on a trade. They want a trade before training camp.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 3, 2020
2/2 About David Njoku’s trade request today to the Browns, agent Drew Rosenhaus said: "It is in David's best interest to find a new team at this time."
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 3, 2020
Njoku, who was the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft, had his fifth-year option picked up by the Browns on April 27. He will make $3,030,791 this season and $6 million in 2021. Even with that financial commitment to Njoku, the Browns seemingly went in another direction after he suffered through an injury-plagued 2019 season.
In the offseason, Cleveland seemed to upgrade the tight end position when it signed two-time Pro Bowler Austin Hooper to a four-year, $44 million contract that included $23 million guaranteed. The Browns also looked to the future, and perhaps locked in a two-tight-end look when it used a fourth-round pick on Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant.
Njoku is understandably feeling a little left out and may have a battle cry similar to Newton, as he also had to deal with his original team moving on from him when the Carolina Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater.
With Njoku seemingly intent upon changing teams, the speculation and rumors hit overdrive on Friday. Despite what the Patriots did during the draft, they have been mentioned as a potential trade partner for the Browns.
What’s the Asking Price for Njoku?
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Njoku might only cost a team a fourth or fifth-round pick.
The Browns have known for about a year that David Njoku was unhappy in Cleveland and would welcome a trade, I’m told. They were not blindsided by this. Early predictions from sources with other teams is Njoku might be worth a 4th or 5th round pick.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 4, 2020
Because we’re talking about such a young player with so much upside, a fourth or fifth-round pick doesn’t seem like too steep of an asking price.
Njoku’s Production in the NFL
While Njoku is about a week short of his 24th birthday, he’s already spent three seasons in the NFL. He missed most of the 2019 season with an injury, but his first two years showed a steady climb in production.
As a rookie in 2017, Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns. He started in just 5 games but played in all 16. The 6’5″ 247-pounder followed that up with a sophomore campaign that saw him start 14 of 16 games while hauling in 56 passes for 689 yards and another 4 touchdown receptions.
Linking Njoku to the Patriots, and is it a Good Idea?
USA Today’s Isaiah Houde loves the idea of Njoku landing with the Patriots. He writes:
He would be the surefire starter and would provide a large and athletic body for the red zone. Njoku would also compliment Newton perfectly as well, who sits with a 6-foot-5 frame. Newton thrives with larger targets and he already has a few on the roster with Asiasi, N’Keal Harry, and Mohamed Sanu. Njoku’s presence would give the Patriots a strong blocker who’s ascending as a pass-catcher.
Houde is correct, and you have to love the idea of placing talented players with something to prove on a team where a master motivator like Bill Belichick is the head coach. All of the guys coming together to reach a common goal could be one of the best stories of the upcoming season.
That said, with the Patriots already investing two third-round picks into the tight end position, anything more than a fifth-round selection seems like too much to give up for Njoku. If it’s a fifth-rounder that convinces the Browns to pull the trigger, you have to love a lineup of weapons that features Newton, James White, Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Njoku, Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene and N’Keal Harry.
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