The Cleveland Browns are prepared to pay a pretty penny to retain impending free agent tight end David Njoku, per a new report.
Njoku is set to hit the market on March 16 if his representation and the Browns don’t reach an agreement on an extension. However, both sides appear to be interested in making it work and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the Browns are willing to pay “double-digit millions” to keep Njoku on board. Per Cabot:
The Browns definitely want him back, and are prepared to pay him the double-digit millions he’ll get on the open market. They’ve been talking to his agents for months, and are poised to try to get a deal done before or during the legal tampering period March 14-16.
Njoku’s market value is a four-year deal worth around $27 million, per Spotrac.
Njoku was a first-round pick of the Browns in 2017 and has an uneven career in Cleveland. He totaled more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns through his first two seasons combined but saw his production fall off during the debacle that was the Freddie Kitchens-era due to injuries and lack of snaps.
He missed more than half the season, notching just five catches for 41 yards and started the next season by demanding a trade, which the new regime of GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski did not grant.
Njoku Wants to be in Cleveland for Rest of His Career
Staying in Cleveland turned out to be the best option for Njoku, who improved as a blocked and found his niche within the offense alongside Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant.
Njoku just played out his fifth-year option with the Browns, finishing with the third-most receiving yards among Browns players, with 475 yards on 36 receptions — a solid 13.2 average.
“I honestly want to be here for the rest of my career, so my agent and the Browns are still in talks, we’re still negotiating, figuring out what we can do, and we’ll go from there,” Njoku said during his exit interview on January 10.
The Browns and have also been very pleased with Njoku’s production and he’s become a valued part of the offense.
“David is a guy over the course of the last couple of seasons who has shown great growth as a player and as a person,” Stefanski told reporters on Friday, January 8. “The way he is playing on the field and the things that we are asking him to do, I think he is doing a really nice job. I think the tape speaks for itself. He has grown as a professional. He is still a young man so he is continuing to grow as a person, as well. I am really pleased with where he is, and I want him to finish strong.”
Browns Need Come to Agreement With Jarvis Landry
A looming question for the Browns is Jarvis Landry and whether or not they can restructure his deal. Landry carries a cap hit of $16.379 million but no guaranteed money left on his deal. If they part ways with Landry, they’d save $14.879 million against the cap and suffer just $1.5 million in dead money.
Landry sent a message to the Browns on social media this week, saying the ball was in Cleveland’s court and he wants to return.
“I have put the ball in CLE court by telling them I would like to stay but if not then I’m confident enough in myself to be a better healthy me this year and moving forward to helping do my part in winning a championship elsewhere,” Landry tweeted on February 22.
But it’s not as easy as Landry makes it sound. The Browns will more than likely offer him a restructured deal that features more guaranteed money with incentives but at a lower overall figure.