Packers: Trade for David Njoku Would Further Complicate 2021 Offseason

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 09: David Njoku #85 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates his touchdown in the second quarter against the New York Giants during their preseason game on August 9,2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 09: David Njoku #85 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates his touchdown in the second quarter against the New York Giants during their preseason game on August 9,2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Tight end David Njoku has demanded a trade, but his addition to the Green Bay Packers would further complicate the 2021 offseason.

For much of the offseason, many had wondered about tight end David Njoku’s status with the Cleveland Browns, especially after the signing of free agent Austin Hooper. And on Friday, there was a new development as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Njoku was demanding a trade.

This, of course, was very intriguing news to many Green Bay Packers fans, and I can certainly understand why.

A former first-round pick in the 2017 draft, Njoku’s career hasn’t gone exactly as expected. After a modest rookie season, we saw a big leap in production during 2018, where he would total 639 yards with four touchdowns while catching 64 percent of his passes.

Unfortunately, in 2019, Njoku would battle injuries, and when he was healthy, he oftentimes didn’t have much of a role in the offense and was even a healthy scratch on two occasions.

Consistency and dropped passes have been a big issue for Njoku, but what can’t be denied is his athleticism and playmaking ability, which we’ve seen in flashes at the NFL level.

But in his defense, the tight end position isn’t easy, and rarely do we see rookies or even second-year players make a big impact. So while it’s certainly been a disappointing start to Njoku’s career, perhaps a fresh start with a future Hall of Fame quarterback would do the trick?

Now sure, the Green Bay Packers already have Jace Sternberger, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and Josiah Deguara – who will be playing the tight end role at times – on the roster, but for a team that is going to be running more 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs) and 22 personnel (two RBs and two TEs), adding the talented Njoku to the mix certainly isn’t a bad thing.

Remember, just because Sternberger is going to be TE1 this year, doesn’t mean we wouldn’t want to see another high-pedigree player alongside him.

As long as the price for acquiring Njoku is within reason – perhaps a Day 3 pick which Green Bay will have extra of as Over The Cap is projecting them to receive three compensatory picks in 2021 for losing Brian Bulaga, Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell – from a pure football standpoint this move makes sense for the Packers.

However, what about financially? Well, that’s where this gets tricky.

By now we are all well aware that the Green Bay Packers don’t have a ton of cap space available this offseason. At this point, Spotrac has the Packers with $11,724,716 remaining. But keep in mind some of that will be needed for their three unsigned draft picks, as well as in-season spending, and the practice squad. So they don’t really have nearly $12 million available.

With that said, Njoku’s cap hit in 2020 is just over $3 million. That’s far from breaking the bank and a figure that Green Bay could certainly make work if needed.

So while the Packers could probably get by in 2020, it’s 2021 where things would become difficult.

Next season, Njoku’s cap hit jumps to over $6 million with the Cleveland Browns already picking up his fifth-year option. That doesn’t bode well for the Packers, who are once again projected to have little spendable cap space next offseason.

Couple that with Green Bay’s pending free agents that include David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Aaron Jones, Corey Linsley, and Kevin King to name a few, and for a team that is already going to have a tough time signing more than two of these players, adding an additional $6 million to the salary cap does not help the situation at all.

Although it’s a fun thought, it is just that, a thought. With Green Bay investing two top-100 picks into the tight end position the previous two drafts, Sternberger and Deguara will be taking those reps, rather than making a trade to add more money to the salary cap.

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As I said, from a football standpoint, I like the idea of adding Njoku to the mix at tight end. However, financially, it’s just not in the cards.