Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku formally requested a trade from the team on Friday according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus who told ESPN, “It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time.”
Njoku just switched representation from Malki Kawa to Rosenhaus recently according to Cleveland.com and is entering his fourth season in the NFL since the Browns drafted him with the 29th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Cleveland reportedly does not want to trade him but Rosenhaus insists that Njoku has a new team by the start of the season. The Browns have had trouble with some of Rosenhaus’ clients in recent years including Terrelle Pryor, Isaiah Crowell, and Duke Johnson whether it was contract negotiations or looking for a fresh start because of the lack of utilization in Cleveland
It was a surprise that the trade request came now almost a month before the start of training camp but when you look at the broad spectrum of the situation, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Njoku wants out of Cleveland.
Despite the team picking up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason and being adamant that he is part of the future, the Browns addressed the tight end position during this offseason with the signing of Austin Hooper and the selection of Harrison Bryant in the fourth-round of the NFL Draft.
Njoku was poised for a potential breakout season in Kevin Stefanski’s offense which showcased both Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. in Minnesota last season for a combined 75 catches for 678 yards and eight touchdowns.
Njoku has displayed some flashes of the talent that made him a first-round pick but his inconsistent hands have halted that breakout and a fractured wrist sidelined him for the majority of the 2019 season.
With the Browns having another fresh start with general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski, it’ll be interesting how they handle this developing situation and whether or not they’ll let it cause a distraction in the locker room. If fans recall, when Duke Johnson publicly asked for a trade, Baker Mayfield made comments essentially saying “you’re either with us or against us” which caused a media firestorm.
If Cleveland wants to avoid any drama, they should abide by Njoku’s request and have both sides move on although the value of compensation the Browns seek will probably be the ultimate deciding factor.