Who would have thought coming into the 2021 offseason the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns would be in the positions they are? For the first time probably ever, it is the Patriots with the questions to answer and the Browns sitting in a good position. One of those spots is at quarterback, while the other is at tight end with Austin Hooper, Harrison Bryant, and David Njoku on the roster.
The Browns are ready to take the next step with Baker Mayfield under the center. The Patriots, don’t have an answer right now at quarterback. Since Tom Brady left town, things have been difficult in New England. The Cam Newton experiment did not work as planned as he threw for only eight touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions.
Newton showed some flashes earlier in the season, but could not consistently make the throws. Some of that was his own doing, as he still doesn’t look recovered from the injuries suffered during his Carolina Panthers days. However, New England did him no favors when it came to the skill positions.
Last season, the leading receiver for the Patriots was Jakobi Meyers with 729 yards. Julian Edelman played in only six games. 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry has not yet panned out. Arguably the most shocking was that the Patriots’ leading receiver at the tight end position was Ryan Izzo with only 199 yards.
During the height of their dominance, the tight end spot was an integral part of the gameplan Bill Belichick put together. Teams had no answers for the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Martellus Bennett. Well, this trade between the Browns and Patriots lands New England a new piece to use at tight end.
David Njoku was a first-round pick out of Miami by the Browns in 2017. He looked like he was coming on after a strong sophomore season with 56 receptions for 639 yards and four touchdowns. However, injuries beset him in 2019 and by 2020 he was being replaced by free agent Austin Hooper and 2020 fourth-round draft pick Harrison Bryant.
Njoku is looking for a change of scenery and would like to leave Cleveland despite the team picking up his fifth-year option.
“We weren’t really on the same page, the Browns and I,” Njoku told The Jim Rome Show (h/t Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “We were trying to figure things out, trying to make sure both parties were happy, and it was very complicated. This game is very political. Obviously, if it was just X’s and O’s and straight football, it would be a lot clearer.”
The proposed swap is New England receiving Njoku and Cleveland getting a 2021 fourth-round pick in return. It is a deal that would make sense for both teams.
New England would get a pass catcher that has flashed potential and at only 25 years old in July, could be in their long-term plans. You know Belichick loves his Rutgers players, as well.
For Cleveland, they open up the tight end spot for Hooper and Bryant to work in tandem. They get a mid-round pick for their troubles to try and build some depth elsewhere on the roster.