April 14, 2024

Browns Exercise Options, Creates Opportunities with Njoku

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Earlier today, the Cleveland Browns exercised the options on defensive end Myles Garrett and tight end David Njoku. First and foremost, Garrett was a top tier priority, and a long term lockup to keep him here still needs to happen, but there is time to worry about that a little later. As for now, it is one less contractual dilemma to fret over.

In addition to securing Garrett a little longer, David Njoku is also under wraps for another season.  With Garrett, things are pretty clear cut.  He is an absolute anchor on the defense and his presence is necessary.  That was completely evident during his suspension, to put it simply.  With Njoku, his role on the team has an increased bit of doubt.  This has become especially heightened in the days since the Austin Hooper free agent signing and again last week with drafting Harrison Bryant, tight end out of Florida Atlantic University.  

It is no secret that Browns new head coach Kevan Stefanski likes to run a double tight end set, more so than anyone else in the league.  With that in mind, Njoku should have no worry about being seeing time on the field.  Additionally, having three tight ends creates depth at the position.  After all, this is the NFL and injuries are inevitable.  

There is, however, another perspective amidst all banter and that is the potential of locking up Njoku to make him more attractive trade bait.  Rumors have surfaced over the past couple of seasons as far Njoku’s desire to remain a Brown.  Some argue his numbers are supportive of a player with no passion to be here.  Others point out the ongoing team disarray which has arguably played itself out in not highlighting Njoku’s talent.  

The former Hurricane made his NFL debut with a so-so rookie season and last year had less than half a dozen receptions, though he did break his wrist early in the season.  Regardless, his numbers aren’t reflective of a standout performer.  If, because of that, the front office is looking to move him, the additional year tacked onto his contract offers security for a team looking to pick up a veteran tight end.  

With the Browns passing on Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun in the draft last week, and despite grabbing LSU linebacker in the third round, the LB position is still a glaring need for the team, even more so with the free agent departure of Joe Schobert.  While the trade market of Njoku for a quality linebacker is unknown, it most certainly has to be something that GM Andrew Berry and company have discussed. If such a move isn’t possible, there is always the opportunity to trade Njoku for a 2021 draft pick.  

Unfortunately, it is not a case of endless possibilities.  Still, exercising Njoku’s option creates a few different avenues the team has with the “disgruntled” tight end.  While there’s a mood in the air that he’s not long for this team, they now have him through the 2021 season if they want him.  

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