David Njoku made his stance very clear while speaking to reporters on Friday at training camp — he wants to be in a Cleveland Browns uniform for a long time.
Njoku has had a turbulent few years with the Browns but is approaching this year with a new mindset and a shift in representation. Njoku fired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus last week and went back to his previous agent, Malki Kawa of First Round Management.
Njoku has instructed Kawa to start working on an extension with the Browns, with his desire being to stay long-term in Cleveland. Njoku is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next season.
“I’ve been here four years knocking on five, I don’t really know anything different, so I’d like to stay here,” Njoku told reporters.
Njoku notched just 19 catches for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season. He added five catches for 66 yards in the postseason and improved as a blocker, which made him useful beyond catching the ball in Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
Njoku Leaving Last Season in the Past
Ditching Rosenhaus and going back to Kawa was a big part of Njoku’s shift in mindset when it came to his future. Immediately after hiring Rosenhaus last year, Njoku demanded a trade, something that obviously never panned out with the Browns not folding. Njoku is ready to leave all that drama in the past.
“We’re going to leave last year in the past but what I can say is: I’m in a way positive mindset, a lot more positive this year,” Njoku said. “Just playing for myself, playing for my teammates, playing for the team—it’s a lot easier to work hard that way.”
Kawa said he welcomed Njoku back after some broken promises from his previous agent.
“Welcome back David Njoku. After being told and promised certain things, all of which weren’t true, my boy David Njoku decided he has had enough and came home. We welcome ‘CHIEF’ back with open arms and I expect him to have the best year he’s ever had,” Kawa wrote on Instagram. “To all you college kids going through the recruitment process. There is no big bad wolf of agents. And no agent can ‘force’ a team to do anything. The bigger you become, and the better you do, the better situations become. Don’t let these agents fool you.
Njoku Has Impressed in Training Camp
Njoku has made stepped up in training camp, with some insiders even pegging him as the best tight end on the Browns roster. Njoku is coming off what was likely his most impressive day of camp so far, snagging some big catches during a joint practice with the Giants.
He has the attention of head coach Kevin Stefanski, who recognized Njoku for the leap he’s made in his game.
“Dave works really hard on his craft. It shows up in his run blocking, his pass blocking, his route running and his catching. I think he is an example of a guy that has been willing to work on his craft, and I think he is getting better,” Stefanski told reporters. “Some of those tight ends I have been around over the years, just their sheer size, they are always open. You just have to go vertically up to go get the ball where you do not have to create separation horizontally in a lot of cases. Dave and (TE Austin Hooper) Hoop, our guys, I think they are very friendly targets for the quarterback.”
Njoku is currently No. 2 on the depth chart, ahead of second-year tight end Harrison Bryant. From the sounds of it, Njoku will be pushing Hooper for reps if he stays on his current trajectory.