NFL reporter Josina Anderson reported that “trade talks are not building” for Njoku, who reportedly wanted out of Cleveland before the deadline, seeking a situation where he could get on the field a bit more.
My understanding is, trade talks are not building for #Browns TE David Njoku, as of this morning. Deadline is 4pm today.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) November 3, 2020
Njoku is currently the No. 3 tight end on the Browns depth chart, but has played on nearly 60 percent of the snaps the last two weeks thanks to an injury to starting TE Austin Hooper. The increased reps didn’t lead to much production, however, with Njoku catching just three balls for 39 yards and 1 touchdown.
In all, Njoku has posted 8 catches for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns this season. The Browns have been adamant about Njoku being a key part of their tight end heavy offense as rumors as swirled since the offseason, when he demanded a trade.
“David brings his own skill set to the group,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski this week. “I think all of them are a little bit different, but David with his size and his ability to be in line and split out, we are excited to get him back out there.”
Tight Ends Haven’t Fetched Much in Trade Market
Njoku — the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft — is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. In his second season, Njoku essentially doubled his production from his rookie year, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
However, Njoku stumbled last season with a broken wrist and a bad relationship with the coaching staff. He had just five catches for 41 yards and one touchdown in Year 3 and was a healthy scratch down the stretch.
Njoku has upside as a pass-catching tight end, but it would depend on the price the Browns are looking for. Cleveland has holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball and would likely want a mid-round pick for Njoku, who is under contract for this season and the next.
Recent tight end trades have usually fetched fourth-round picks or worse. One trade of note lately was the Patriots sending “retired” tight end Rob Gronkowski to the Buccaneers for a fourth-round pick, although there were extenuating circumstances involved.
The Falcons traded for Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst this offseason — a first-round pick in 2018 — for a second and fifth, but gave up a fourth in return. The Bears got a sixth-round pick back for backup TE Adam Shaheen in July.
Austin Hooper Expect Back After Browns Bye Week
The Browns could be more willing to deal Njoku with the expected return of Hooper after the bye week. Hooper had an appendectomy and has missed the last two games.
Stefanski says TE Austin Hooper will definitely be back after the bye.
— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) November 2, 2020
“I think Hooper will definitely be back for the next ball game,” Stefanski said. “We will just figure that out as these days go by. Feel real good about Austin.”
Hooper — the Browns big-money offseason free-agent acquisition — has 22 catches for 205 yards and one touchdown this season.