Football Team

Washington should call Cleveland about TE David Njoku

Football Team

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku reportedly wants to be traded before the Nov. 3 deadline, and the Washington Football Team has a desperate need at tight end.

So, it might seem like it's a no brainer for the two clubs to strike a deal. Well, it isn't that simple, but Washington should at least pick up the phone and call.

Let's first start with Njoku, whose future in Cleveland is bleak at best. 

A first-round pick in 2017, the tight end's career got off to a strong start, as he averaged 44 catches for more than 500 yards with four touchdowns in each of his first two seasons. 

However, the tight end hauled in just five catches in 2019, as he was sidelined for much of the season due to injury. This season, he's missed three games already but has shown some promise when he's been on the field.

This past offseason, Cleveland signed Austin Hooper to a three-year deal making him the highest-paid tight end in football. A month later, they drafted Harrison Bryant in the fourth round.

While Njoku has shown flashes of talent, the additions of Hooper and Bryant by Kevin Stefanski and his staff made it clear that Njoku's role in the offense would not be what it once was. It makes plenty of sense why Njoku wants out.

Now, let's take a look at Washington's tight end unit. Entering the season, the position group was arguably the biggest area of concern on the roster. While that may no longer be the case, the tight end group still has plenty of question marks and would certainly benefit from an overhaul.

 

Logan Thomas has been decent as Washington's top option at the position. He's hauled in 17 receptions on the season and caught two touchdowns, including an impressive toe-dragging grab against the Giants.

But, to be fair, Thomas simply is not a No. 1 tight end in the NFL. He's caught under 50 percent of passes thrown his way and has rarely proven to be a mismatch against defenders. Sure, he can be a solid second option at the position (and a rather good one), but he has not shown enough to be counted on as a true No. 1.

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Behind Thomas, Washington has gotten no production from its tight end unit in the passing game. That's not an exaggeration. Marcus Baugh and Temarrick Hemmingway have totaled two catches for 12 yards through six weeks. Jeremy Sprinkle, who hauled in 26 passes a year ago, has yet to log a reception this season.

That's bad. Not just bad, but the group outside Thomas has produced so little on offense that it's almost impressive how poor they've been.

If Washington's plan in 2020 was to see what they have in their in-house talent, that plan has failed. Outside of Thomas, it's hard seeing any of these other players on the roster past this season.

Earlier this summer, the Browns were reportedly looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Njoku. That surely isn't happening now, and Washington shouldn't even entertain an offer for the tight end that isn't a third-round pick or later.

But for a rebuilding team like Washington, stockpiling assets is important. But not all assets are in the form of draft picks.

Njoku is just 24 years old and under contract through next season, as the Browns exercised his fifth-year option this past spring. He's already as talented as any tight end on Washington's roster and has a higher ceiling than any of the players in the group.

He also only has a cap hit of $6 million next season, and the Burgundy and Gold have plenty of cap space entering the offseason. Washington could potentially sign another free agent to pair with Njoku and Thomas, overhauling the entire unit from 2020.

This isn't to say that a trade has to happen. Washington has many other needs on its roster besides tight end. If Cleveland asks for too much in return, it's perfectly acceptable for Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith to hang up the phone.

But with the potential to land a talent like Njoku -- who still has loads of potential -- Washington should at least pick up the phone and call the Browns.

 

Whether the two sides strike a deal or not, Washington owes it to themselves to at least check out the possibility of making something happen.