Panthers: Is trading for David Njoku the right move to make?

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) David Njoku
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) David Njoku /

Could trading for tight end David Njoku be the one move for the Carolina Panthers to make before the 2020 season gets underway?

Things look incredibly promising for the Carolina Panthers from an offensive perspective in 2020. This is a team loaded with talent if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can get enough time in the pocket. And the group has the potential to thrive under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

One area where the Panthers do lack some depth is the tight end spot. They lost prolific veteran Greg Olsen in free agency when he opted to join the Seattle Seahawks. And this has put an enormous amount of pressure on Ian Thomas to deliver the goods in his absence.

There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of options behind the former fourth-round pick if the player fails to reach expectations. Chris Manhertz is seen as more of a blocking presence on the edge. And the trio of Temarrick Hemingway, Colin Thompson, and Cam Sutton come with no NFL experience.

The Panthers might look at the uncertain future surrounding David Njoku of the Cleveland Browns as an avenue to go down before competitive action resumes. The player has requested a trade from the organization following the free-agent arrival of Austin Hooper. And he represents an intriguing proposition providing the former Miami standout’s health is no longer a concern.

This is an opinion shared by Kristopher Knox of The Bleacher Report, who picked Carolina trading for Njoku as the one move they need to make before the season. The writer did highlight a possible reliability issue. But added that there is considerable potential relating to the player and the Panthers’ offensive scheme.

"According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has requested a trade and is “intent” on being dealt. If the Browns acquiesce, the Carolina Panthers should be prepared to pounce. The Panthers are rebuilding with new head coach Matt Rhule and journeyman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but the offensive potential is promising. New offensive coordinator Joe Brady is widely expected to bring creativity to the offense, and Carolina has young stars in Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore. What the Panthers lack is a high-level tight end.While Njoku hasn’t been the epitome of reliability in his three pro seasons, he has flashed tremendous upside. The 2017 first-round pick caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 and could provide similar production for the Panthers in 2020."

Is trading for David Njoku a realistic option for the Panthers?

It is hard not to see the upside with any potential trade for David Njoku. The player is a physical force in the passing game. And with a little more consistency he could become one of the NFL’s best.

The Panthers appear to be confident in Thomas’ ability to make a real go of things in a more prominent starting role. Although he didn’t see much in the way of action in 2019. His performances as a rookie when Olsen missed time through injury were a cause for encouragement. But the onus will be on the player to finally deliver on his impressive skill set.

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Njoku’s asking price would also be a possible stumbling block in any potential trade. The Browns have indicated their willingness to keep the player around. However, this might only be to hike up the price for interested parties wishing to acquire his services.

Pairing Njoku with Thomas has the scope to be a devastating combination that could propel Carolina’s offense to even greater heights. They already have an All-Pro running back, three wide receivers that could break off big plays at will, and a quarterback that is consistent if not spectacular in Bridgewater.

Thomas might yet be able to produce all by himself from the tight end position. But most successful NFL teams do tend to have two solid options in their pursuit of the postseason.

A dynamic threat such as Njoku would be a hot commodity if the Browns started fielding calls. But whether the Panthers would be willing to part ways with draft picks during their rebuild is another matter entirely.

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