Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku is entering the most important season of his NFL career in 2021 as it will be the final year of his rookie contract.
Put together a solid season and the next contract will be waiting. Have a down year and it may be a situation where Njoku will have to take whatever he can find on the open market.
There is also the ongoing, and at times exhausting, discussion over whether or not Njoku is “all in” on what the Browns are building. Much of that falls on him, of course, given that Njoku:
- fired his agent, Malki Kawa, in 2020 and hired Drew Rosenhaus
- subsequently demanded a trade (or more accurately Rosenhaus likely demanded a trade)
- walked that back early in the season
- possibly reiterated his trade demand during the season
- recently fired Rosenhaus and re-hired Kawa
Now, as the Browns continue to work toward the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, Njoku met with the media on Friday and said he is open to talking about a new deal to remain in Cleveland, according to a team-provided transcript:
“We are going to leave last in the past. What I can say is I am in a way [more] positive mindset, a lot more positive this year. Just playing for myself, playing for my teammates and playing for the team. It is a lot easier to work hard that way.
“I have been for four years, knocking on five. I do not really know anything different. I would like to stay here.”
Njoku is not coming off the type of season that would earn a big contract — just 19 receptions for 213 yards and two touchdowns — and has just 112 receptions for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns in his four seasons with the Browns.
He is also the type of athletic tight end that can create advantages for an offense and, while his overall numbers are not eye-catching, Njoku has averaged 11.4 yards per catch in his career, which is something the Browns can work with.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski likes tight ends, but with so many other weapons on the offense, targets will be limited again this year, so Njoku will need to make the most of his opportunities when they come up.
If he can do that, then that second contract with the Browns could materialize, and perhaps with it, the outside noise will finally start to quiet down.