CLEVELAND, Ohio – Browns tight end Austin Hooper wants to crush the idea that David Njoku wanted to leave Cleveland because of Hooper, whom the Browns made the highest-paid tight end in the NFL when they signed him as a free agent in March.
“David and I have always been cool,” Hooper said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “David and I have always had a good relationship. A super nice guy, super sweet. Really a good human being. “
Njoku has yet to speak to the media since he asked to be traded on July 13 and then canceled the request on Saturday, but Hooper’s interpretation is that Njoku’s new agent Drew Rosenhaus wanted him to change team. Njoku, however, became disillusioned last season when he landed in Freddie Kitchens’ doghouse and has been a healthy scratch for two of the last three games. Brown then signed Hooper to a four-year, $ 42 million offseason contract, making him the league’s highest-paid tight end, and drafted Harrison in the fourth round.
Andrew Berry envisions ‘fantastic season’ for David Njoku
But when Njoku showed up for training camp, he had a good dialogue with Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry and felt like a valued member of the organization again.
“He changed agents and the agent wanted him to go somewhere else,” Hooper said. ” I get it. It’s a business at the end of the day. You must do good by your family. He changed agent to an agent who, if you look at someone’s background, that’s something he’s always done.
Hooper pointed out that he and Njoku, who had worked together in Baker Mayfield’s hometown of Austin, Texas, had a good relationship in May.
“At the end of the day, it’s not an indictment against him and his character or that he and me aren’t cool,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. I get it. David and my relationship are still good – still a great guy and I can’t wait to work with him. I wouldn’t say, “Oh, David didn’t want to be here and now he’s doing it. There is no ill will on my side, again, I understand. I can’t wait to work with him.
Hooper has also vowed to be a mentor for other tight ends in the room, unlike how some former Cowboys and current Raiders have been viewed as Jason Witten. In 2016, Cowboys backup tight winger Martellus Bennett told ESPN, “I hated Jason Witten. I enjoyed his game, but I always hated him. “
Hooper has indicated that he will be a team player and share his knowledge with the other tight ends.
“My style, I’ve never really been a rah-rah guy at all,” he says. “I just like to lead by example, and if people have questions, I’ll answer them. I am an open book. I’m not trying to accumulate information. I don’t like doing the whole (TE Raiders) Jason Witten contract where it’s me against everyone in the narrow end room. David, Harrison (Bryant), Stephen (Carlson), Pharaoh (Brown), Nate (Wieting), we’re all in the same boat. “
Hooper later tweeted that he was clearly sarcastic about Witten and that should have been evident from the interview, in which he emphasized how important a tight end room was to him.
“I see it as a big family in our room. We all have a common goal: to win our representatives. However, someone does it in a certain way, it resonates better with someone else’s learning process. I think like any other workplace, it’s best when it’s collaborative and not combative. This is what I try to bring into the room and let everyone know that yes I’m one of the older guys in this room but I don’t feel like I not be accessible. I am and book open. I want to see people succeed. “
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