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Cleveland Browns Free Agent Review: TE David Njoku

What do the Browns do with Hooper still on the roster?

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Our Cleveland Browns free agent preview continues with TE David Njoku.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

How and When He Joined the Browns: Njoku was one of the Browns’ three first-round draft picks from the 2017 NFL Draft. Having been drafted 29th overall, Njoku out-lasted S Jabrill Peppers, but remained teammates with first overall pick Myles Garrett.

Productivity Level Last Season: There have been trade rumors over the past couple of seasons with Njoku, but he finished his fifth season with the team having 36 catches for 475 yards and 4 touchdowns. His blocking also continued to impress.

Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: While he doesn’t have Pro Bowl type of numbers that jump off the page at you, over the past two seasons, Njoku has dramatically improved in the eye test area — to the point where many fans consider him the team’s top tight end despite Austin Hooper earning more money. On a team that seems to be lacking wide receiver threats, Njoku is one of the team’s most valuable receiving threats who should be seeing the ball more.

What the Browns Should Do: According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, the Browns have been talking with Njoku’s agent for months and they are willing to pay him over $10 million per year so that he doesn’t hit the open market. The pickle in this whole situation doesn’t involve whether Njoku is worth it, though — it’s questioning whether it makes sense, given the relative mistake that Austin Hooper’s contract turned out to be.

Hooper will be entering his third season with the Browns. Hooper’s cap hit this year is set to be $13.25 million. However, a lot of that is guaranteed money — if Cleveland decided to cut him, they’d only be saving $2 million. It would almost be counter-productive to cut Hooper, especially because he does still provide value. However, can you justify having $23+ million in cap space allocated to tight ends this year when that money could be used at other positions like wide receiver or defensive tackle?

Cleveland could also make Hooper a post-June 1st cut designation, which means he would only have $3.75 million in dead money against the Browns’ cap this year. However, they’d still be paying $13.25 million in dead money in 2023 for him, creating the scenario of paying two tight ends a high amount next year while only getting the services of one of them.

Let’s get back to Njoku, though. I’d be comparing his contract to what Hunter Henry got from the Patriots last year, which was a 3-year deal worth $37.5 million and a $15 million signing bonus. Njoku’s production has been a tad below Henry’s, but with inflation and it being one year later, I think the deals stack up comparably if you want to retain Njoku.

Let us know below whether or not the team should try to re-sign David Njoku.


Should the Browns re-sign TE David Njoku?

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