The Cleveland Browns have assembled a tremendous roster in hopes of capturing the franchise’s first Super Bowl but there are still moves that could be made to improve the roster not only for this year but also down the line.
Two players who have found themselves on Bleacher Report’s “Trade Block Big Board” are running back D’Ernest Johnson and tight end David Njoku. Both carry solid potential but have limited opportunities to excel in Cleveland.
Johnson is in his third season with the Browns, playing a minor role in the backfield. Sitting behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the depth chart doesn’t leave a lot of opportunities for carries. Not to mention he’s fallen further out of the running back rotation with the emergence of dynamic pass-catching back Demetric Felton.
In all, Johnson has carried the ball 39 times for 196 yards during his career in Cleveland, also playing a role returning the ball on special teams. He played a larger role when Chubb went down with an injury last season but did not show tremendous upside.
Bleacher Report previously said that the Browns could fetch a third-day pick for Johnson, which would help them bolster their depth in years to come. And with the team hitting on some nice late-round picks of late, that would be worth it for Cleveland.
David Njoku Has Complicated Relationship with Browns
Njoku has been a constant figure in trade rumors since he demanded to be dealt last offseason. He is a former first-round with high athletic upside but is part of a talented, three-headed tight end attack in Cleveland. He’s firmly in the rotation and has been on par with starter Austin Hooper in terms of snap count. The rumors remain, in part, because of Njoku’s contract situation. He’s currently playing on his fifth-year option and will be a free agent at the end of the season if a long-term deal is not reached. With the Browns already tied into a hefty salary for Hooper (four years, $42 million), it’s unlikely the team would ink Njoku to a market-value deal, especially if he has a good season. said he imagines a long-term future in Cleveland.
“What I can say is I am in a way [more] positive mindset, a lot more positive this year. Just playing for myself, playing for my teammates and playing for the team. It is a lot easier to work hard that way,” Njoku told reporters in August. “I’ve been here for four years, knocking on five. I don’t really know anything different. I’d like to stay here.”
Njoku Focused on Improving All Aspects of His Game
Njoku has always been able to be a mismatch in the passing game but he has worked hard to become more well-rounded with the arrival of head coach Kevin Stefanski in 2020. With Stefanski often using multiple tight ends, being able to get on the field as a blocker only improves his chances of being a contributor.
“I try to better myself in all aspects of being a tight end. The dirty work, the blocking, the catching and the route running, everything that it takes to be elite, I want to better myself,” Njoku told reporters on Wednesday, October 6.
We’ll see what kind of performance Njoku can churn out this week against the Chargers in Los Angeles in what could end up being a high-scoring affair.