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David Njoku

Browns looking to re-sign Njoku

David Njoku has had more downs than ups during his first five seasons in the league, but the expectation is that the Browns will attempt to re-sign him to a deal averaging over $10 million.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com has been covering the team for years and reports as much. The Browns signed Austin Hooper to a four-year contract worth $42 million a year ago, but they apparently now like Njoku more than Hooper. Hooper could be asked to take a pay cut or even be released.

This is surprising, in that last summer reasonable observers were wondering if the Browns (having committed big money to Hooper) would dish off Njoku in a trade – recouping some value before the final season of his rookie deal. Njoku has averaged under 30 catches per season so far as a pro, with 15 touchdowns in 65 games.

But in Kevin Stefanski’s run-oriented offense, the Browns use multiple tight ends on the vast majority of plays. Both Njoku and Hooper averaged just over 2 catches per game last year, but Njoku made more impactful catches downfield, averaging 4 more yards per reception. Njoku caught 7 passes for 149 yards in a game against the Chargers, including a 71-yard touchdown.

The Browns also have another viable tight end. Harrison Bryant caught 21 passes and 3 TDs in his second season. This is a different style of offense.

I would think that Cleveland will be able to get Njoku to agree to a new contract before free agency fires up in a couple of weeks. He’s shown interest in staying in Cleveland, and I don’t think he’s been good enough that there will be another team that will want to offer him a gigantic deal. If the Browns are comfortable paying him $10 million or more, I think that will get the job down.

Hooper might be back and Bryant will have a role, but I’m not confident that any of them will put up notable numbers. They all have some pass-catching ability, so I don’t think this is a situation where any of them will be making a run at 60-plus catches. They all caught 3-4 TDs last year.

In the last 20 years, there have been 13 teams that have finished with seasons with three tight ends catching 20-plus passes. Only five of those teams had an individual tight end who ranked higher than 20th in overall production (using PPR scoring).

OFFENSES WITH THREE 20-CATCH TIGHT ENDS
YearPlayerRecYdsAvgTDPPRRk
2004Todd Heap, Balt.2730311.2375.323
2004Daniel Wilcox, Balt.252198.8152.934
2004Terry Jones, Balt.201527.6141.239
2004Ben Troupe, Ten.3332910.0171.926
2004Erron Kinney, Ten.251937.7362.330
2004Shad Meier, Ten.251275.1249.735
2005Donald Lee, G.B.332948.9274.423
2005David Martin, G.B.272248.3369.425
2005Bubba Franks, G.B.252078.3151.733
2005• Ben Troupe, Ten.555309.64132.010
2005• Erron Kinney, Ten.555439.92121.313
2005Bo Scaife, Ten.372737.4276.322
2010Jeremy Shockey, N.O.4140810.0399.825
2010Jimmy Graham, N.O.3135611.5596.927
2010David Thomas, N.O.302197.3263.936
2010• Chris Cooley, Was.7784911.03181.95
2010Fred Davis, Was.2131615.1370.633
2010Mike Sellers, Was.2022411.2044.645
2012• Owen Daniels, Hou.6271611.66169.69
2012James Casey, Hou.343309.7385.632
2012Garrett Graham, Hou.282639.4372.336
2013Dallas Clark, Balt.3134311.1383.331
2013Ed Dickson, Balt.2527310.9158.346
2013Dennis Pitta, Balt.201698.5142.950
2019• Mark Andrews, Balt.6485213.310209.25
2019Hayden Hurst, Balt.3034911.6276.934
2019Nick Boyle, Balt.3132110.4275.136
2020Trey Burton, Ind.282508.9583.327
2020Mo Alie-Cox, Ind.3139412.7282.429
2020Jack Doyle, Ind.2325110.9366.139
2020Dallas Goedert, Phil.4652411.43116.420
2020Zach Ertz, Phil.363359.3177.532
2020Richard Rodgers, Phil.2434514.4270.536
2020Jacob Hollister, Sea.252098.4365.940
2020Will Dissly, Sea.2425110.5261.143
2020Greg Olsen, Sea.2423910.0153.946
2021David Njoku, Cle.3647513.24107.622
2021Austin Hooper, Cle.383459.1392.524
2021Harrison Bryant, Cle.2123311.1362.339
2021Brevin Jordan, Hou.201788.9355.843
2021Jordan Akins, Hou.242148.9045.753
2021Pharaoh Brown, Hou.231717.4040.156

—Ian Allan

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