The LA Chargers could be a trade partner for Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku.
The LA Chargers currently have one of the most promising pass-catching tight ends in the NFL right now in Hunter Henry, who is franchise-tagged for the 2020 season. However, that does not mean that the team should not explore any possible improvements, including Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Friday that Njoku has requested a trade from the Cleveland Browns and would like to be traded before training camp. According to Schefter, the Browns informed Njoku that they would try and keep him, but Njoku is intent on a trade.
If there is one area of the roster that the Browns can trade from it is the tight end position, so it is not all that surprising that Njoku has requested a trade. The Browns signed Austin Hooper to a lucrative four-year, $44 million contract this offseason. Cleveland also drafted promising dual-threat tight end, Harrison Bryant, in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Njoku missed 12 games last season because of a concussion and broken wrist on the same play in Week 2. Njoku only had 10 receptions for 41 yards.
But still, the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on his contract for the 2021 season. Njoku is set to make $6 million in 2021.
Why it makes sense for the LA Chargers to trade for David Njoku:
First of all, the cost of the trade is not going to be much. Considering the fact that Njoku only played four games last year and the Browns do not have much leverage in the situation, it is hard to see Cleveland getting much for the tight end.
Hayden Hurst was traded for a second-round pick this offseason but is younger and was coming off of a healthy season. Rob Gronkowski was traded for a fourth-round pick after being retired for a year. Realistically, Njoku falls somewhere in the middle.
A straight-up third-round pick should be the most that the Browns are getting offered for Njoku or the Chargers could even get creative and send something such as back-to-back fourth-round picks in consecutive drafts. Either way, that is not an expensive price to pay in the slightest.
Njoku would be a great fit on this team as he adds another weapon to the Chargers’ offense. Sure, the team has Henry, but the Bolts do not really have a second pass-catching tight end option to use in two tight end sets in the red zone and on short-yardage situations.
Virgil Green is great as a blocking specialist but he is not a receiving threat. Donald Parham is intriuging and exciting, but the team should not be fully banking off of an XFL standout that did not initially make the NFL.
Plus, Njoku’s contract gives the team a fallback option. His $6 million next season is not going to restrict anything financially and if the tea cannot agree to an extension with Hunter Henry then they have Njoku for the 2021 season. From there, they could either commit to Njoku in the long-term for a shorter price or at least buy themselves another year to pivot at the position.
Despite only playing four games last season, Njoku has shown some really promising signs as a pass-catching tight end. He was targeted 88 times in 2018, hauling in 56 receptions for 639 yards and four touchdowns. That is right on the same level that Henry has been on in his career thus far.
And as an added bonus, Njoku also has familiarity with Tyrod Taylor. Taylor spent time with Njoku on the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and in his three starts (one of which he went out with injury), Taylor targeted Njoku 18 times.
A third-round pick might be pushing it for the LA Chargers but if the team can work out a deal for Njoku that includes something like back-to-back fourth-round picks then it would absolutely be worth exploring.