Njoku posted a picture to Instagram that showed him looking jolly flying around the basepaths at Jarvis Landry’s charity softball game over the weekend. Njoku was labeled “Browns” while the disgruntled defender behind him was tagged “Steelers.” His caption was simply a bunch of crying laughing emojis.
The image is obviously a reference to the offseasons both teams are having. The Browns are a rolling hype machine, gaining more momentum this offseason after recording the franchise’s first playoff win in over a quarter-century. That, coincidentally, came against the Steelers and was a relative blowout for most of the game after Cleveland took a 35-10 lead by half.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have some major questions to answer after slumping in the second half of last season following an 11-0 start. That starts at the quarterback position with a 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger.
The Browns (+145) and Ravens (+115) are the favorites to win the AFC North next season, while the Steelers coming in as an underdog at +440.
Browns-Steelers Rivalry Has Been Heated Recently
The last two seasons have added quite the chapters to the rivalry between the Steelers and Browns. The helmet-bashing incident with Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph in 2019 was a big moment and so was the war of words between the teams before their postseason meeting a season ago.
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster revved things up with a statement that will go down in Browns history: “Browns is the Browns.”
“I think they’re still the same Browns teams I play every year,” Smith-Schuster said. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple good players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. The Browns is the Browns.”
The Browns let Smith-Schuster hear it after the win, literally dancing on his grave to his favorite song.
“Any talk like that is going to be disrespectful to any team, and we didn’t appreciate it,” Myles Garrett told reporters. “I think we made that known with our performance by getting this big win in their house.”
For the record, Smith-Schuster says he doesn’t regret saying what he said.
David Njoku Has Recommitted to Browns — Again
With the additions of Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant, Njoku took on a smaller role last season. He finished with just 19 catches for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The down year came after Njoku requested a trade prior to the season, later rescinding that demand. Njoku had his fifth-year option picked up by the Browns this offseason worth $6 million — a hefty price for a third-string tight end. Njoku’s comments about his future didn’t inspire confidence about his return to the team.
“That’s a good question,” Njoku told Jim Rome about returning to the Browns. “I’m not going to answer that right now. I have no comment towards that at this moment. I’m just going to enjoy my family, my friends, and my loved ones. I have a couple of projects happening in the near future, so I’m just focused on the right now and I’ll let everything handle itself in the near future.”
However, it seems that both sides are happy with their situation going forward — hence Njoku brashness in his post.
“The Browns seemed to have weathered the storm with tight end David Njoku, who requested a trade last summer,” Fowler tweeted. “I’m told per source that Njoku is in a good place with the franchise.”
We’ll see if Njoku chimes in on the rivalry with his play on the field this season. He had just four catches for 27 yards in the three combined games last season.