David Njoku “not sure” he’ll be back in 2020, if Freddie Kitchens returns

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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.

32 responses to “David Njoku “not sure” he’ll be back in 2020, if Freddie Kitchens returns

  1. This Browns staff is clueless on how to get the most out of their talent. I have to imagine there are countless coaches and coordinators around the league fantasizing about what they could do with all these pieces.

  2. Not a loss . He cant block and has questionable hands . Get em both outta here . will they ever get it right ?

  3. He probably should pay Cleveland to not take the 5th year. Kitchens is learning on the job. A job he should not have. He was the running backs coach? Quarterback coach? Offensive coordinator? And then head coach all within a year. He has demonstrated for any length of time the ability to excel at any of these positions. How can he evaluate his staff having no experience of his own to base it own or even to give feedback? He should be fired. The gm should be fired for making indefensible hiring decision. Guess you can’t fore owner.

  4. “How many guys has Mayfield killed this year by throwing them directly into a waiting defender?”

    Well there was the “Mayfield Special” where he literally almost handed the ball to a Pats Dlineman who got a pick 6 out of the deal, that offset at least 1 of those plays you mentioned


  5. This is just more example of the type of character the GM has been bringing in. The Browns have zero chance to succeed with this GM. Just look at the guys he’s bringing in. All a bunch of character guys. Birds of a feather….

  6. From what I’ve seen, the commenter that said Njoku can’t block and has iffy hands is very accurate. He also seems to get dinged up a good bit? Still, not a good situation for the Browns when yet ANOTHER of their players pipes up with some grievance or other?!

  7. He’s not going into his 5th year. His fourth year. Thus the 1.76M. 5th years option would be 5X that.

    Had this been true it would be receiving his notice of his option NOT being picked up on New Years Eve (first day of notice). Since it’s his 4th year, he’s not going anywhere for a while.

  8. Wonder what this guy could do with a better QB and a professional coaching staff. he seems to have a lot of innate ability, but he’s stuck in an offense that tries to get the ball to its WRs at all costs.

    Guys like this whose hands are questionable and blocking is suspect after three years of NFL coaching are either (a) a bust, or (b) on the wrong team.

  9. He has very iffy hands and suspect blocking skills for TE. He has to double clutch many of the balls he catches. He also leaves his feet too many times for balls thrown his way whether it requires it or not. Yes, Baker helped put him on injured reserve with a garbage throw in game 2, but this guy is a average TE in NFL. He is more of a oversized WR.

  10. Freddie ‘I ate everything in the’ Kitchens needs to go. Good (not great, but good) players like Higgins, Randell and Njoku have been healthy scratches throughout the year and during games when we could use them. Freddie’s ego is out of control for a guy that has done zero in the NFL. Think about it – what other team in the NFL would even consider him for the OC role? None. He would be luck to get a position coach gig.

    The Browns need to stop hiring these fringe coaching prospects and go after a McDanials, Rivera or McCarthy.

  11. Losing to the Bengals to close out the season would just be the cherry on top. Its amazing how such a promising year for them turned into such a dud.

  12. Chiefs should offer a 5th rounder to the Browns for Njoku. He would excel with their offense and it would take some of the pressure off of Kelce.

  13. I struggle to understand why Kitchens has basically made 2 of Baker Mayfield’s favorite targets from last year bench warmers this year. As a Browns fan, I am starting to see a part of the reason why Baker Mayfield may be struggling this year…over 55% of all passes thrown last year went to players that are either no longer with the team (Duke, Callaway, Perriman) or residing in Freddie’s doghouse (Njoku and Higgins).
    Have always been a proponent of retaining a coach for 3+ years…but, Freddie is in over his head and has shown little to no improvement from start to end of the season. Time to go, Freddie.

  14. Garrett, Mayfield, Beckham, Njoku, Landry, Chubb, Hunt, Randall, Vernon, Ward…

    Seems to me the Browns have an attitude issue. Dorsey has not done a good job of getting motivated players. Kitchens has not done a good job of motivating players. Motivation/dedication wins over individual talent every day in the NFL.

  15. Not sure why all the talk regarding Njoku’s hands. Last year, the non-running backs with 50+ targets were: Njoku, 88 tgts, 4 tds, 6.82% drops (6); Landry 149 tgts, 4 tds, 7.38% drops (11); Callaway 79 tgts, 5 tds, 7.59% drops (6); Higgins 53 tgts, 4tds, 5.66% drops (3). Excluding RBs, only Landry and Beckham have over 50 tgts this year, and we’re the worse for it. Next in line is Harris with 26, but he’s dropped 15.38% (4) of them. Seals-Jones has been solid, with 4 tds, and a catch percentage identical to Njoku’s last year, but he’s only had 25% as many targets. Anyway, have the sinking feeling Dorsey and/or Kitchens may be trying to purge Depodesta’s picks/acquisitions (Ogbah, Zeitler, Peppers, Nassib). No effort’s been made to extend Schobert, Higgins was rumored to be on the block, and now both he and Njoku are getting buried on the depth chart. Freddie wouldn’t have a job without Dorsey (Depodesta favored Stefanski), so he likely feels either indebted or resentful, which may have as much to do with who makes it on the field Sundays as that other lesser objective… namely, winning. Maybe it’s just me, but Dorsey pushing for Kitchens has the whiff of Banner hiring Lombardi. Give a guy something he hasn’t really earned, and you own him. Unfortunately, these sorts of internal power plays rarely (read never) work in the Browns favor. If everyone’s not rowing in the same direction, the boat goes in circles. And here we are again. Too bad, as I thought the Browns might actually be getting somewhere.

  16. I’m not into wanting people to lose their jobs, but if they keep Kitchens, John Dorsey should just hand in his resignation now.

  17. To outsmart the Steelers the Browns traded back up into the 1st round, ahead of Pittsburg, to select Njoku. Pittsburgh promptly drafted TJ Watt with the next pick. The legend that is (was) Sashi Brown.

  18. Landry and Beckham over the past few weeks have been gung ho about staying in Cleveland after weeks of non committal answers before. I feel as if the Haslams have already informed them of Kitchens future. I honestly don’t think Cleveland has ever seen a coach this bad who his team has so little confidence in. Hue Jackson went 1-31 and guys like Joe Thomas and Terrelle Pryor went to bat for him constantly and still do to this day. This guy if they’re lucky will go 8-8 and the only person who likes him is the QB who hired him.

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