This Cleveland Browns trade idea should please David Njoku and John Ross
After the Cleveland Browns whup up on the Cincinnati Bengals — we hope — how about a little trade, in which unhappy former first-round draft pick David Njoku is dealt for unhappy former Bengals first-round draft pick John Ross?
Njoku is an incredibly athletic tight end from the University of Miami who has gotten on the wrong side of the Dawg Pound due to his lack of progress in his blocking, for which he was publicly called out by former general manager John Dorsey. That might not have been the right way to handle the situation. Njoku is a highly intelligent, sensitive man from a well-respected family and public humiliation was not an appropriate motivator.
In any case, Njoku has reportedly asked for a trade, but he has been very professional about and played his best for the Browns all year. He spent time on the Injured Reserve list; however, this writer does not criticize players for getting injured. Njoku’s best season was 2018, when he caught 56 passes, most of them from Baker Mayfield, for 639 yards.
John Ross was the Bengals first-round draft pick, also in 2017, when he lit up the Combine with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash. However, like Njoku, he has underachieved. His best season was last year when he had 28 receptions out of 56 targets for 506 yards. His catch rate was only 50 percent which is not great, but his speed forces the defense to use their fastest cover guy against him in man coverage, which could set some interesting matchups for Odell Beckham, Jr.
Both players reportedly requested a trade from their respective employers recently, and by coincidence, both items were reported in the same news blurb in the New York Post.
The Browns could use a wide receiver more than another tight end, because they have Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant, and Stephen Carlson who are all highly regarded. They could use another threat to complement Jarvis Landry and OBJ, however.
Similarly, the Bengals are not necessarily totally down on Ross, but they have Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and A.J. Green at first string, and they also like Auden Tate. They have great depth at that position. =At tight end, Drew Sample is their starter, and so it depends on how committed they are to Cethan Carter and Mason Schreck.
Would the Bengals and Browns make a deal within the division? Normally that takes brass, because whoever loses a division game is going to take some heat for making a deal. In this case, however, there are no more division games for either player, because both receivers will turn free agent at the end of the season. Technically, Njoku is under contract with a non-guaranteed fifth-year option that would pay him about $6 million next year, but that is too much money for a situational tight end, even if he is talented.
Hence, though nothing is 100% certain in the NFL, it is 99% certain that the option willbe voided at the end of the season, and both Ross and Njoku will be free agents this off-season. Both teams benefit from this deal. There is minimal downside risk. Do it.