The idea of trading for David Njoku doesn’t make any sense unless the price is lower than expected.
In a vacuum, the idea of trading for David Njoku sounds good for the Kansas City Chiefs. That would be true for any team in the National Football League.
Unfortunately, trades do not happen in vacuums—that is, places in which there are not external factors to consider other than the player himself. Instead, the Chiefs are a team that already employs the most talented tight end in the NFL with a salary cap dealing with myriad other constraints.
Over the weekend, David Njoku made it known via his agent to NFL reporter Adam Schefter that he had requested a trade away from the Cleveland Browns. Despite the former first round investment in Njoku (No. 29 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft), the Browns signed free agent Austin Hooper to a four-year deal that pays out $10.5 million annually this spring. It was the writing on the wall for Njoku who is looking for a place to spend his contract year.
It’s that last note that signals good news for any team trading for him. They’re bound to get a motivated player with solid potential who will give every effort toward getting that second contract that every NFL player chases. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they’re not in any position to deal for him, no matter what fans might desire for the league’s best offense.
For the last few years now, Chiefs Kingdom has clamored for a greater upgrade at backup tight end. For years, Demetrius Harris played the role of TE2 on the Chiefs and every offseason, a significant amount of fans waited for the Chiefs to either sign a player or draft one in hopes of creating a mismatch in two tight end sets. Despite any rumors or stated hopes, every year John Dorsey and then Brett Veach sat in their general manager chairs and ignored the wishes.
Instead, the Chiefs have watched the likes of Harris, Ross Travis, Blake Bell, and now Ricky Seals-Jones waltz in and out of Kansas City. Not a single player so far has been able to garner significant targets on offense and RSJ is unlikely to be the first. Given the lack of importance at this particular spot, and given the current financial fix, it just doesn’t make sense to reach for Njoku.
Even more, Njoku would not likely want to play for K.C., at least with Travis Kelce on the roster. Njoku, who had a wrist injury that limited him to a single start in 2019, needs an offense desperate for a tight end upgrade, one that will feed him predictable targets. The Chiefs aren’t that team.
At some point in the near future, the Chiefs will have to draft that next great tight end, but it won’t be because they want to run exciting dual tight end sets for a fun offensive wrinkle. It will be when Kelce decides to hang up his cleats after putting up one of the best careers as a tight end in recent league history. Until then, expect the parade of average veterans to continue at the position in K.C.