Make or break year for Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku
By Grant Puskar
With the Cleveland Browns addition of Austin Hooper to the offense, David Njoku has to step up in the two-tight end sets or he could be jobless in the near future.
As soon as new Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski made his way to Cleveland and stepped foot in the facility as the new head coach, he made a few things clear. One of those things? He wants an offense that can run the ball and use multiple tight ends.
As soon as free agency opened, the Browns were quick to jump on building an offense around Stefanski’s new scheme. On the first day of free agency, the Browns signed former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper to a four-year deal, making him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.
Does that mean current Browns tight end David Njoku is done playing in brown and orange? No. This means that Njoku has to step up when he is in alongside Hooper in two tight end sets, or he could be packing his bags mid-season.
For his career, Njoku has totaled 93 receptions for1,066 yards to go along with nine touchdowns. His catch percentage over his career? 58.9 percent, which is definitely a bit concerning and alarming. Last year, Njoku had a career-low catch percentage, down to a scary 50 percent flat.
Cleveland’s new tight end Hooper has never had a season where his catch percentage has dropped below 70 percent. Hooper also had a career-high in touchdowns last season with six.
One thing is clear; Njoku will not see the field as much as he is used to, and he knows he has to step up in order to keep his job with the Browns. Njoku also appears to be ready for some friendly competition with Hooper.
Hooper is also a tight end known for his ability to help in the blocking game, something Njoku has also struggled with in his career. With the Browns also signing new tackle Jack Conklin to a deal, he will surely take some pressure off of these other guys and bulk up that offensive line.
Good thing is, Njoku knows that when it comes down to it, Hooper is the number one tight end for the Browns. He is the guy for most red-zone targets moving forward.
If Njoku puts his head down and grinds this offseason, he and Hooper could really be a dangerous tight end duo in this league, giving fans yet another thing to be super excited about for this upcoming season.