Kevin Stefanski remains excited to work with David Njoku despite trade request

By , 92.3 The Fan
CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – David Njoku reported for training camp this week.

Earlier this month Njoku hired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus, who quickly requested a trade on behalf of his client.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said Thursday that he has not spoken with Njoku about his request, but from his standpoint, nothing has changed as far as his plans for the tight end go.

“My stance hasn’t changed. The organization’s stance hasn’t changed in that we believe in David, excited to work with him,” Stefanski said Thursday during a Zoom conference with reporters. “I will get to finally be in the same room as him this weekend as he is coming in for physicals and then get out on the field with him Monday. Excited to work with him.” 

On July 20, Njoku took to Twitter to manage some of the backlash he received for asking out of Cleveland.

“I want to make something very clear. I love the city of Cleveland with all my heart. This game is filled with a lot of complications but don’t think for a second that I don’t love and appreciate Cleveland and all that it has done for me,” Njoku tweeted.

The Browns drafted Njoku 29th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. In 36 games – 20 stats, Njoku has 93 catches for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns on his resume.

Njoku suffered a broken wrist in Week 2 last season that landed him on injured reserve, but he worked hard behind the scenes to return for the final four weeks. A conflict with former head coach Freddie Kitchens led him to be inactive for Weeks 15 and 16 and he was not targeted in the season ending loss at Cincinnati.

The Browns exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie contract at the end of April but the addition of Austin Hooper, who received a four-year, $42 million contract as a free agent likely impacted Njoku’s decision to ask out.

Opt out watch – Stefanski declined to say much about the possibility of more players opting out of the season.

“I do not know,” Stefanski said. “I would not speculate, but I respect the decisions.”

Two players opted out Sunday – both offensive linemen – Drew Forbes and undrafted rookie Drake Dorbeck.

Forbes was expected to compete for the starting right guard job.

“There should be competition at a lot of positions,” Stefanski said. “That is the fun part of training camp. I think our guys are eager to compete. Drew made a decision. I respect his decision. It is the ‘next man up’ mentality. We will see how it all shakes out.” 

Outdoor living – The relocation of the weight room to the field house presents another challenge – practicing indoors got even more difficult.

The new weight room configuration takes up 20 yards of field leaving a 60-yard field to practice on should weather get bad.

“We are an outdoor football team. We are going to be outdoors as long as we possibly can,” Stefanski said. “We will go inside if it is absolutely impossible for us to be outside with the weather. If we go inside, it is a limited field prior to us putting the weight room in there, and now, I understand that we have cut it down even more.

“We will be smart if we go in there. I do not know that you have an individual period, but there are some things that you can do full speed in there. I am not in a rush to get in there, being the fact that we have all of our games playing outside. We are going to stay outside for as long as you possibly can.”  

The Browns, who were the first NFL team to build an indoor practice facility in 1991, have considered expanding or rebuilding the Casey Coleman field house to accommodate a full-length 100-yard field in recent years but the footprint of the complex makes expansion or new construction difficult, and expensive.

Perfect attendance – Stefanski confirmed that everyone reported for training camp on time.