For teams like the Giants, players like Daniel Jones are saying all the expected things about an embattled head coach. For teams like the Browns, where the unexpected is expected, the unexpected (and thus the expected) is happening.
Tight end David Njoku, a first-round pick in 2017, was asked recently whether he thinks he’ll return to the team in 2020, if Freddie Kitchens remains the head coach.
“That’s a good question,” Njoku told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I don’t want to answer that yet. I’m not sure, so no comment.”
Asked whether he wants to return if the head coach does, Njoku didn’t say, “Yes.”
“I’m really doing everything I’m doing now for my teammates at this point,” Njoku told Cabot. “Obviously it’s been a rollercoaster and at this point in my life with where I’m at, I’m just doing everything for the guys that I play with.”
Njoku has appeared in only three games this year, after breaking his wrist in Week Two. The surprise comes from his limited use since returning from injured reserve in November. Njoku has appeared in only one game, catching one pass for four yards. He has plunged to fourth string on the team’s online depth chart, with Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones the top two tight ends.
The Browns have to decide whether to pick up Njoku’s fifth-year option by early May. He has a fully-guaranteed salary of $1.76 million for 2020.
However it plays out, Njoku will know soon whether Kitchens will be back, or whether the team will be looking for a new coach who potentially will use Njoku more. Last year (with Kitchens eventually becoming the interim offensive coordinator), Njoku caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns.