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NFL Draft

Should Browns Give David Njoku A Contract Extension?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 20, 2021
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With their regular-season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs less than a month away, the Cleveland Browns are focused on continuing the newfound success they had in 2020. The Browns made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 a year ago, and The Dawg Pound has never been more excited to see their beloved team kick off a new campaign than they are right now.

While maintaining that immediate success is paramount, general manager Andrew Berry is also keeping an eye toward the future. He recently extended the contract of star running back Nick Chubb and contract negotiations with franchise quarterback Baker Mayfield and lockdown cornerback Denzel Ward are ongoing, per Jeremy Fowler. Our very own Ryan Fowler recently covered all three topics in this recent piece.

There’s another Browns player that’s apparently been paying close attention to his team’s activity. 

On Friday, Browns tight end David Njoku came out and proclaimed that he wants his agent to pursue a new deal with the team that would keep him in Cleveland beyond 2021, per Tony Grossi.

Whether Njoku deserves a contract extension is a turbulent topic. Expectations were high when Cleveland selected Njoku in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but those wishes have rarely been met. Njoku disappointed as a rookie by recording a lowly 32 receptions for just 386 yards. Njoku experienced what many hoped would be a breakout campaign as a sophomore when he nearly doubled his rookie-season output by totaling 639 yards on 56 catches. Disaster struck the following year during Week 2 of his 2019 season when Njoku suffered both head and wrist injuries. He was limited to just four appearances that season. 

Despite the setback, the Browns decided to pick up his fifth-year option—a move that was considered odd in nature after the team agreed to a hefty contract with free-agent tight end Austin Hooper just a month earlier. To complicate things further, the Browns drafted Harrison Bryant just days before extending Njoku’s contract for a fifth year, creating a muddled tight end room in the process. 

Njoku’s injury history, unfortunately, reared its head again in 2020 when he suffered a knee injury in early September. By the time he returned, he was a forgotten man in an offense that was powered by the two-headed rushing tandem formed by Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

When available, Njoku has been a formidable option as a pass-catcher with the athletic tools to beat one-on-one coverage. As he gets ready to enter the most important season of his career in 2021, he’s healthy and ready to prove that he’s still the feared weapon in the passing game that he so often was at The University of Miami.

Returning to prominence on a team that has so many mouths to feed could prove to be a difficult task for Njoku. Is Njoku even a top-five option in an offense that features Chubb, Hunt, Hooper, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry? It doesn’t appear so.

Logically speaking, an extension for Njoku is unlikely to be in the cards. Never say never, and the man himself seems to hope otherwise, but we would be shocked if Njoku is a Cleveland Brown in 2022.

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