Wide receiver David Njoku is back from the ‘mental pit’ and ready to help validate the Browns’ $6 million investment. The former Miami Dolphins first-round pick has been a revelation for Cleveland, catching six touchdowns in his first four games.
Cleveland Browns tight end Njoku, David made it plain in the summer of 2020 that he wanted to hear another tune and leave the Rock and Roll Capital of the World.
You have to remind yourself now and again that you can’t always obtain what you want. Not only is Njoku still in a Browns jersey, but he also has the chance to turn his 2021 season into a lucrative deal later on.
David Njoku claims to have emerged from the’mental abyss.’
Tight end for the Cleveland Browns Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images David Njoku sounds like a guy poised for a Pro Bowl season.
For a moment, imagine yourself in the summer of 2020. The Browns had signed ex-Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper in free agency earlier that year and selected Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant, a consensus All-American, in the fourth round of the NFL Draft.
Njoku, who sought a trade before training camp started, was left with a limited number of snaps. However, the Miami product ultimately backtracked on his demand and remained with the club throughout the season. In 13 games and five starts, he only caught 19 receptions for 213 yards and two scores. In two postseason games, he added five more receptions for 66 yards.
Njoku has every right to be upset by such statistics, and he hasn’t hidden his dissatisfaction with the last two seasons. During the 2019 season, he only had five receptions in four games due to a wrist injury.
Njoku, on the other hand, is eager to put the past behind him. The 2017 first-round selection recently told reporters he’s feeling lot better, particularly psychologically, ahead of his fifth NFL season, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
“Things that start with being mentally [drained] end up being physically [drained].” Because you were in that mental quagmire, your body doesn’t feel as wonderful as it used to. Every day is a chance for me, and I give it my all on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom.”
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski described the veteran tight end as a “very motivated guy.”
This season, Njoku has a chance to make the Browns seem very smart.
When you think about it, the Browns didn’t really need to keep Njoku last season. Hooper signed a four-year, $42 million contract and expected to be the starting tight end when he arrived. Bryant, who earned the John Mackey Award at Florida Atlantic in 2019, might have slipped into Njoku’s position as a backup tight end — and did.
An NFL club would very certainly have contemplated trading a mid-round selection for a rookie tight end. Despite this, the Browns kept him and picked up his fifth-year option. This season, he’ll make $6 million before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in the spring of 2022.
Despite the presence of Bryant and Hooper, Njoku has every reason to be hopeful. The tight ends get a lot of activity and touches in Stefanski’s offensive system. Last season, Cleveland’s top three tight ends combined for 89 receptions for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns.
Njoku had a strong preseason and excelled as a receiver when the Browns and the New York Giants practiced together. Nothing will stop him from ultimately usurping Hooper for the starting job if he continues to improve his performance and maintain a healthy mindset throughout the regular season.
Remember that Njoku will be 25 years old when the season begins in 2021. Even if he catches 40 passes for 500 yards and five touchdowns in free agency, it should be enough to get him a multi-year contract. A club in dire need of a seasoned tight end — maybe the New York Jets? — will fork out big bucks and hope the former Hurricanes star lives up to the hype.
The Browns’ tight end group should keep opponents on their toes all season.
Every Sunday, we’re getting a reminder of what a healthy and confident Njoku is up to. However, don’t overlook Bryant and Hooper and their contributions.
In 15 games and nine starts last season, Bryant had 24 receptions for 238 yards and three touchdowns. After fumbling twice last season, he may very well be the Browns’ full-time starting tight end next season if he can improve his ball security.
Last season, Hooper had 46 receptions for 435 yards and four scores. In the two postseason games, the two-time Pro Bowl pick added nine receptions for 62 yards and a score. He’ll be 27 in October, and in his second season alongside star quarterback Baker Mayfield, he may increase his statistics.
The Browns will be playing football far into January if they receive all they anticipate from that trio. Who’d have thought that the Browns’ greatest chance to win a Super Bowl would come from a bunch of tight ends?
On Facebook, follow Sportscasting. @sportscasting19 is our Twitter handle.
RELATED: Baker Mayfield Is Following in Tom Brady’s Footsteps to Achieve NFL Greatness