The latest news out of Cleveland came in the form of a trade request on Friday afternoon. Adam Schefter reported tight end David Njoku has requested a trade from the Browns' front office. It doesn't come as a big surprise after the franchise added two tight ends over this past offseason, including forking over a massive deal to Austin Hooper.
As is often the case when a talented but underutilized player hits the trade market, the New England Patriots came first to mind as a potential suitor. But, given Njoku's price tag and New England's needs, this is a more natural marriage than other potential trades.
The Patriots got almost nothing out of their tight ends in 2019. They added two in the draft in the form of Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi. Keene is more of an H-Back than a pass catcher, though, so really only Asiasi will be impactful in the pass game this season. The relative lack of talent at wide receiver means he'll be important, and adding Njoku would only help matters there; the former Miami Hurricane can't do much as a blocker, but he's a talented receiver with great speed for a tight end. Nobody knows exactly what this New England offense will look like if Cam Newton is indeed at the helm come September, but one does not need to know that to understand that adding Njoku would only benefit.
What makes this work is Njoku's cap hit, which is slightly less than $2 million this season. The Patriots have less than $1 million in cap space after signing Newton, but can fairly easily create the space necessary to add Njoku by converting salaries to signing bonuses and things of that ilk. The biggest obstacle comes in the form of what the Browns will want in return. Njoku is a former first-round pick. They won't want a sixth-rounder in return. They'll likely be asking for a third or fourth-round pick, and New England just lost their 2021 third-round pick as a part of the NFL's punishment for their latest filming scandal.
As always, if the Patriots can find good value, they'll make the deal. Bill Belichick isn't tanking this season, if that wasn't clear before the Newton signing. Utilized properly, Njoku could be a foundational piece of their offense going forward at only 23-years-old. At the very least, Belichick should pick up the phone.