According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku and his representation have requested a trade—which raises the question of whether the Indianapolis Colts should be potentially interested:
1/2 Browns’ TE David Njoku and his agent Drew Rosenhaus asked today for the team to trade him. The Browns told Njoku they would like to keep him, but Rosenhaus told them he’s intent on a trade. They want a trade before training camp.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 3, 2020
Originally a 2017 first round pick of the Browns out of Miami (Fla.), the 6’4”, 246 pound tight end has shown flashes of his immense athletic ability and potential.
Njoku ran a 4.64 forty time and had a 37 1⁄2 inch vertical, as well as a broad jump of 11’01” at the NFL Combine back in 2017.
His SPARQ rating (which measures overall athleticism) was in the 96.9% among all NFL tight ends—which was the 2nd best in the 2017 NFL Draft class behind only San Francisco 49ers’ All-Pro tight end George Kittle.
His RAS [Relative Athletic Score] was an outstanding 9.3 out of 10.0.
Njoku recorded 5 receptions for 41 receiving yards (8.2 ypr. avg.) and a touchdown reception during 4 games (1 start) in 2019—as he suffered a concussion in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter with a broken wrist before returning late in the season.
However, Njoku’s just a year removed from a 2018 season in which he caught 56 receptions for 639 receiving yards (11.4 ypr. avg.) and 4 touchdown receptions in 16 games (14 starts).
Of course, the Browns signed 2x Pro Bowler Austin Hooper to a lucrative 4-year, $44 million deal to be their primary tight end earlier this offseason—which is why Njoku is looking for a larger role elsewhere.
The Colts have a Pro Bowl tight end of their own, Jack Doyle, as well as versatile receiving veteran Trey Burton and the talented, yet still developing Mo Alie-Cox—but the team did see its other Pro Bowler, Eric Ebron, recently depart to the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency this offseason.
Still only 23 years old, Njoku could be a more explosive, down the field option for the Colts—especially compared to any of their current options. Simply put, Njoku can stretch the seam down the middle of the field and offer big play ability at tight end:
Under head coach Frank Reich, the Colts frequently utilize two, even three tight end sets, so Njoku could still be prominently featured—even with the other Colts’ tight ends currently in the fold.
He’s due a $1.8 million cap hit in 2020 and a $6 million cap hit in 2021—which is the last year of his rookie contract as his 5th-year option (*already exercised by the Browns).
Now, given their tight end depth, the Colts shouldn’t surrender an early draft pick for Njoku by any means—but if he can be had for a mid-round pick:
The Browns have known for about a year that David Njoku was unhappy in Cleveland and would welcome a trade, I’m told. They were not blindsided by this. Early predictions from sources with other teams is Njoku might be worth a 4th or 5th round pick.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 4, 2020
Sure, why not?
Like Ebron was for the Colts, with his athletic ability, Njoku could be a mismatch for the Colts over the middle of the field—too big for safeties, but too fast for linebackers in coverage—and another big bodied red zone target.
With Doyle (30 years old) and Burton (28 years old and coming off hip surgery), it’s not as though the Colts couldn’t use an infusion of young talent within their tight end room either.
While he’s been limited by the Browns’ starting quarterback play (and Baker Mayfield’s inconsistent early development) and sometimes inept offense, Njoku has a chance to be a dynamic tight end in time for the Colts—or any other potential NFL suitor willing to roll the dice.
Should the Colts trade for Browns tight end David Njoku?
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