It really is amazing how quickly things can change. Two years ago the New England Patriots were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after beating the LA Rams in Super Bowl 53. During that game New England employed arguably the greatest quarterback and greatest tight end of all time. Fast forward to the 2020 season and both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have taken their talents to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.
This has left the Patriots searching to strengthen both positions. Last season Brady was still the quarterback, but the combination of Ben Watson, Matt Lacosse, and Ryan Izzo, was borderline pitiful, and there were many tight ends throughout the league that performed better than all three combined. Belichick has addressed the TE position by trading up and drafting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Belichick also seemed to shake up the quarterback room a little bit after signing Cam Newton.
Though all three guys have propelled the Patriots odds for the 2020 season, I think everybody took notice when the news broke that tight end David Njoku has demanded the Cleveland Browns to trade him. That news of course sparked the Belichick memes across Twitter, and Patriots fans immediately began discussing what Belichick had to do to get him.
Tom E Curran from NBC pointed out that the Patriots aren’t really in a position to be wheeling and dealing especially after losing a third round draft pick because of Spygate 2.0. But, Curran also points out that the Patriots had essentially ignored the tight end position in the Draft ever since they brought in Gronkowski, and Njoku could be a mulligan for Belichick. The Patriots would be getting a young former first round Draft pick with two years left on his rookie deal. Even though Belichick seemingly found his two guys, it doesn’t hurt to take a look.
“Despite the drafting of Keene and Asiasi, tight end is a position that shouldn’t be seen as sewn up. It’s going to be critical to the success of a Newton-led offense and the Patriots can make up for lost time if they can convince Cleveland to cough Njoku up.”
The issue becomes, what is Njoku going to cost? According to Mary Kay Cabot of Celeveland.com, the Browns really have no intentions of moving on from Njoku.
“(Browns GM Andrew) Berry effectively eliminated that uncertainty (over Njoku’s future role) when he stressed that the tight end was an integral part of the team’s future even though they drafted Harrison Bryant in the fourth round out of Florida Atlantic and signed Austin Hooper to a blockbuster, four-year, $42 million free-agent deal that made him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end at $10.5 million a year.
"To David in particular, our perspective remains the same,'' Berry said. "I have been pretty consistent this offseason in terms of we still have a ton of belief in David. He is very talented.”
The questions need to be asked: What does the Browns commitment to Njoku mean to a team like the Patriots who could be interested in making a trade? How much would the Patriots have to give up to convince the Brown to move on? Does giving up a second round draft pick for Mohamed Sanu last season put Belichick behind the eight ball when making trades now? Finally, what could Njoku bring to the Patriots, that they can’t get out of Keene or Asiasi?
Ray Rauth answered all the questions on his show DPN Sports Talk, live on SportsCastr.