CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Browns tight end David Njoku has put this summer’s trade request, and subsequent rescinding of it, behind him.
Njoku didn’t want to talk about what went down in July on Tuesday during a Zoom video conference with reporters, rather choosing to keep his attention on the season that lies ahead.
“I’d rather not go into it,” Njoku said. “I understand where I am right now. I’m a Cleveland Brown.”
Njoku’s first thee years in Cleveland have been challenging and difficult.
Since being selected 29th overall in the 2017 Draft, Njoku has endured the pain of an 0-16 season his rookie year and last year a broken wrist that saw him land injured reserve slowed his development.
Combined with conflicts with last year’s coaching staff that saw him deactivated for two of the final four games, yet another round of organizational change and the addition of two-time Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper for a whopping $42 million in March, it’s easy to see why Njoku might have had enough.
Njoku swears he is fully committed to the Browns.
“It was tough,” Njoku said. “I just feel like it’s in my best interest to stay here for the time being and try and contribute in any way I can to help the team win and succeed.
“I’m here. I’m excited to be here and I’m ready to win.”
In April, the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
The “for the time being” quote might sound ominous or like this is a temporary situation for Njoku, but the tight end clarified his position when pressed on it.
“I was just speaking on today and on now,” Njoku said. “I am not saying this is my last year here. I am just talking because all we have is the present.”
“Yes, I want to be here long term,” Njoku added when asked if he hopes to remain in Cleveland beyond his current rookie contract.
Njoku took heat from fans following the request and that too is a bridge he hopes to repair.
“I love the fans,” Njoku said. “The Cleveland Browns fans, they’re amazing, probably second to none. But, at the end of the day, this is a business, and this is my life and I choose to do what I do with my life. Now, with that being said, I am still here. I am a Cleveland Brown, and I am excited to be a Cleveland Brown.”
Kevin Stefanski’s use of multiple tight end sets makes Njoku’s role valuable – for him and the team.
“Two tight end sets in his offenses are very frequent,” Njoku said. “I believe Austin and I have talent that not many tight ends have. I am excited to finally play again.”
Njoku needs to do his part and catch the ball when it is thrown his way. Consistency has been a problem during parts of his first three years with the team.
“All of our players, we are looking for consistency. David is no different,” Stefanski said. “We need him to perform day in and day out in the run game and the pass game. I think he showed up here in great shape, he is learning the playbook and I think he is willing to put in the work.”
Early in training camp, Hooper’s value, ability and chemistry with Baker Mayfield has shown up in each practice.
“Hoop is a great person. He and I connected rather quickly, and we are just always together,” Njoku said. “We are hanging out. He is a great dude, a real cool dude, and we are excited to do this together. We are excited to be side by side for the attack this year.”