Top NFL Landing Spots for David Njoku in Potential Trade

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 6, 2020

FILE - Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku celebrates after the Browns defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 27-19 in an NFL football game, Dec. 8, 2019 in Cleveland. Agent Drew Rosenhaus has asked the Browns to trade tight end and former first-round draft pick David Njoku, a person familiar with the request told the Associated Press on Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/David Richard, file)
David Richard/Associated Press

Three years after the Cleveland Browns used a first-round draft pick on physical marvel David Njoku, the tight end might be available on the trade market. 

With newly added Pro Bowler Austin Hooper now topping Cleveland's depth chart at that position, Njoku and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have requested a trade before the start of training camp, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

"It is in David's best interest to find a new team at this time," Rosenhaus told Schefter on Friday. 

Njoku missed all but four games due to injury in 2019 but flashed with 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018. Tight ends often come along slowly, and the still-23-year-old entered the league somewhat raw, so he might be worth an investment of some draft or roster capital ahead of a $3 million contract year (his 2021 fifth-year option is guaranteed only for injury).

Where might he land? Here are the top potential trade destinations for the Miami product. 

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 15:  David Njoku #85 of the Cleveland Browns in action during the game against the Denver Broncos at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on December 15, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.  The Browns defeated the Broncos 17-16.  (Photo by Rob Leiter
Rob Leiter/Getty Images


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Washington's top tight end in 2019 was Jeremy Sprinkle, who averaged just 6.0 yards per target and scored just one touchdown in 16 games (13 of which he started). And while the team has plenty of other options at that position, Sprinkle, Logan Thomas, Richard Rodgers, Hale Hentges and Thaddeus Moss don't have ceilings that are close to as high as Njoku's. 

Washington needs to do everything it can to support second-year first-round pick Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, and a 6'4" target with elite tight end speed could do wonders for Haskins' development. 

Only the Browns and Tennessee Titans have more salary-cap space than Washington, who also have an extra 2021 third-round pick following the Trent Williams trade. 


New England Patriots

The Patriots have lacked a true No. 1 tight end since the end of the Rob Gronkowski era. The now-retired Ben Watson led all of the team's tight ends with just 173 yards in a touchdown-less 2019 campaign, and Matt LaCosse caught only 13 passes. 

They did use two third-round picks on tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, but they're obviously still in it to win it following the acquisition of veteran quarterback Cam Newton, and Njoku would clearly become the top guy in Week 1. 

And for what it's worth, the Browns and Pats made four trades in 2018 alone. 

Ben Margot/Associated Press


Green Bay Packers

Jimmy Graham is gone, Marcedes Lewis is 36 and no other tight end on the Green Bay roster caught more than 10 passes in 2019.

There's a chance 2019 third-round pick Jace Sternberger or the 26-year-old Robert Tonyan emerge, but neither has done much at the NFL level, and the Packers can't really afford to wait for players to develop in critical spots. 

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 36, and he could have a field day with a big, fast target like Njoku, who would immediately be the top tight end on the roster. The Packers have the cap space to at least give him a shot for a season or two. 


Arizona Cardinals

The Cards are gunning for it right now following the acquisition of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but tight end remains a position that could use a serious upgrade. 

They've apparently moved on from veteran Charles Clay, who led the team with a mere 237 receiving yards last season, leaving just Maxx Williams (15 catches last season), Darrell Daniels (four catches in three NFL seasons), Dan Arnold (20 catches the last two seasons) and Dylan Cantrell (zero career catches) on the tight end depth chart. 

Could they make another splash in support of reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray? Head coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn't lean too heavily on his tight ends, but this might be worth the risk.  


Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are loaded with salary-cap space (they rank fourth in that area, per Spotrac) and draft capital (they have extra picks in the first two rounds next year), and the jury's still out on 2018 second-round pick Mike Gesicki. 

Gesicki went over 500 yards and scored five touchdowns as a sophomore but averaged a mediocre 6.4 yards per target. Still, it'd make sense for a rebuilding team to add more young skill at a position that lacks established talent, and it's not as though Miami can't use both players in 2020 before potentially making a decision in a year or two about the team's future at that position. 

A return to South Florida would make a lot of sense for Njoku. 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press


Carolina Panthers

With Greg Olsen gone, the only semi-accomplished tight end on the Carolina roster is 2018 fourth-round pick Ian Thomas, who has scored three touchdowns in 32 career games. Njoku could provide an upgrade or at least team up/compete with Thomas in support of new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. 

The Baylor offense didn't use multiple tight ends often under Matt Rhule's tutelage, but talent is talent, and another target with high potential could help the young Carolina offense flourish. 

The Panthers have the cap space to get it done, so it might be worth an offer.  


Dallas Cowboys

The Jason Witten era is officially over in Dallas, leaving Blake Jarwin as the only somewhat established option at tight end for a team that is in win-now mode. The 25-year-old averaged a strong 8.9 yards per target last year, but he's never been a full-time No. 1 tight end and he's scored just six touchdowns in three professional campaigns. 

Dallas could be tempted to combine Jarwin with Njoku, both of whom could be primo safety valves for quarterback Dak Prescott. But the team is likely focused on contract negotiations with Prescott, and it gave Jarwin a new contract earlier this offseason.

So it's not surprising that's Mike Fisher reports the Cowboys aren't interested in trading for Njoku, but you just never know with Jerry Jones.


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter, @Brad_Gagnon.