The Cleveland Browns have expressed that they still have faith in former first-round pick David Njoku, but the tight end and his agent have demanded a trade before the start of training camp.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the trade request with a statement from Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
“Browns TE David Njoku and his agent Drew Rosenhaus asked today for the team to trade him,” Schefter reported. “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.
Rosenhaus told Schefter: “It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time.”
This is not the first time Rosenhaus has been involved in a Browns player demanding a trade prior to the season. In fact, just last year the power-agent helped facilitate the trade of running back Duke Johnson Jr. to Houston.
Browns Made Offseason Tight End Additions
The Browns offseason moves likely didn’t sit well with Njoku. The team signed Austin Hooper to the richest tight end contract in the league early on in free agency and then drafted John Mackey Award winner Harrison Bryant in the fourth round.
In just 13 games played last season with Atlanta, Hooper set career highs last season with 75 receptions, 787 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
Bryant played his college ball at Florida Atlantic and is 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds. He got progressively better each season with the Owls, culminating with a season season where he collected 65 catches, 1,007 yards and seven touchdowns.
That being said, the Browns are expected to run a tight end heavy system under head coach Kevin Stefanski and depth was much needed at the position. Njoku said he would embrace the competition for playing time in a tweet shortly after the move.
“Nahhhh man cmon I love competition,” Njoku wrote on Twitter in a now deleted tweet, responding to a tweet speculating that he would want a trade more than ever. “We’ll push each other and get better together.”
David Njoku Coming Off Disappointing Year
Njoku suffered a fractured wrist in Week 2 last season and he didn’t make it back into the lineup until Week 14. However, a dropped a ball that turned into an interception played a part in him being a healthy scratch the next two weeks and he was firmly in former head coach Freddie Kitchen’s dog house.
Njoku suited up for the Browns final game of the season, but played just four snaps. Njoku had just five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown last season.
Despite his struggles last season, the Browns decided to pick up Njoku’s option for a fifth-year, meaning he has at least two more seasons left in Cleveland (or somewhere else if they trade him). The team is hoping that they can see the Njoku that showed major upside during his second season, when he notched 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
Alex Van Pelt, the Browns new offensive coordinator acknowledged that and admitted he was excited for the chance to use Njoku in the offense.
“To have him with the ability he has both athletically to play in line or get him out in space and get some matchup issues with safeties and linebackers covering him, I am excited to see what he has to offer,” Van Pelt said.
General manager Andrew Berry echoed those sentiments.
“We still have a ton of belief in David,” Berry said of Njoku. “He’s a guy with outstanding physical tools. We still think the future’s very bright for him. We see David as part of our long-term plans.”