The Cleveland Browns have a “significant deal” on the table to retain tight end David Njoku that will pay him more than $10 million per season.
The latest intel on the Njoku situation for the Browns comes from Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, who laid out the specifics and broke down the latest buzz.
The Browns have had a significant contract on the table for Njoku, and execs have predicted to me that he will get north of $10 million per year on a deal. All of this is why the Browns could franchise-tag him by the deadline. At tight end, the Browns carry Austin Hooper’s $11.25 million cap hit into 2022, but they love tight ends and their offense often uses multiple at the same time.
It was reported earlier this month that the double-digit millions mark is what Njoku would fetch as a free agent. The Browns and Njoku’s reps met at the combine and general manager Andrew Berry commented — albeit vaguely — on the situation.
“It’s a good question,” Berry said on March 1. “I think you know me well enough that those business considerations I’ll keep pretty close to the vest and in house. Any discussions that we have with players or agents, those remain confidential.”
Tight Ends Essential to Browns Offense
Njoku’s market value is a four-year deal worth around $27 million, per Spotrac. As mentioned by Fowler, the Browns could also choose to use the franchise tag on him, which will hold a value of around $11 million.
It’s an interesting situation for the Browns, who are already paying Hooper but utilize multiple tight ends often within head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
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 a cliff under Freddie Kitchens. 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 Stefanski rebuffed immediatley.
Since, Njoku has changed agents — twice — and has also changed his mindset, sharing that he wants to be in Cleveland his entire career.
“I love it here. I love it here to the core,” Njoku on January 10. “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.”
Browns Impressed With Njoku’s Growth
Njoku finished with the third-most receiving yards among Browns players last season, with 475 yards on 36 receptions — a solid 13.2 average. He showed off his ability to be a downfield threat, but also improved as blocker, pleasing his head coach.
“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 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.”
Njoku appears to be a piece the Browns see as an important part of the future. The question now is if they’ll be priced out of keeping him on the roster, with multiple teams expected to put in an offer if he reaches free agency.