Browns Trade Pitch Swaps Day-3 Pick for $60 Million WR in Amari Cooper-Type Move

Browns Trade Pitch Swaps Day-3 Pick for $60 Million WR in Amari Cooper-Type Move

The Cleveland Browns authored an all-time heist when they flipped a fifth-rounder to the Dallas Cowboys for Amari Cooper, and the franchise has a chance to execute a similar play this offseason.

Mike Williams, Chargers

Financial realities dictate that the Los Angeles Chargers must move on from wide receiver Mike Williams, a former collegiate teammate of Browns QB Deshaun Watson at the University of Clemson.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com on Wednesday, March 6 made the case for why Cleveland should send L.A. a late-round pick for the rights to a contract the Chargers are champing at the bit to move off, while simultaneously laying out the parallels to the Cooper deal two years ago.

If the Chargers cut or trade [Williams], they’ll have $12.46 million in dead cap space on the books, but a draft pick from the Browns would help offset that sizable hit, making it a win-win. When the Browns traded for Cooper in 2022, the Cowboys wanted to unload his $20 million salary for 2022, and were happy to accept a fifth-round pick in return. Perhaps the Chargers would also take a similar mid-to-late-round selection.

The Browns then extended Cooper’s contract, lowered his $20 million base salary for 2022 to $1.12 million, added two void years, and wrote him a big check for the restructure bonus. Cooper has been one of the best receivers in the NFL the past two seasons, and one of Berry’s best acquisitions.

The Browns could do a similar restructuring with Williams, who is heading into the final year of his contract with a base salary of $17 million.

Mike Williams Can Offer Browns Risk/Reward Play After Suffering ACL Injury in 2023

Mike Williams Chargers

The Chargers will likely cut Williams if they can’t trade him, which would allow Cleveland to pursue him at a lower price point. However, that’s a plan that might backfire and Williams has high-end WR2 potential and would be worth a flier to several teams willing to make a risk/reward play for the 29-year-old and former first-round pick.

“So why would the Browns give up a draft pick instead of waiting for the Chargers to cut him?” Cabot wrote. “It’s the same as with Cooper: a trade keeps him off the open market and ensures that the Browns don’t lose him to a higher bidder.”

Williams signed a three-year deal worth $60 million in March 2022 to remain with the Chargers following a career season in 2021 that included 76 catches (career best), 1,146 yards (career best) and 9 TDs, per Pro Football Reference. He followed up that performance with 63 receptions for 895 yards and 4 scores, then had his 2023 campaign cut short by an ACL tear in Week 3.

But with modern sports medicine being what it is, and with Williams’ status as a player still on the right side of 30 years old, an interesting case can be made for a deal somewhere between a prove-it contract and a bonafide payday for a wideout with 31 TDs and more than 4,800 receiving yards in 88 career games.

Browns Need to Go All-In on Talent Around Deshaun Watson in Year 3

Browns star receiver Amari Cooper is coming off a career year in Cleveland.

Williams is an extra-interesting proposition in Cleveland given his ties to Watson, who remains QB1 for the Browns despite the quality play of Joe Flacco down the stretch last season.

Watson has been on the field for only 12 regular-season games across the past two campaigns, missing 11 contests in 2022 due to an NFL suspension and another 11 last year because of a shoulder injury that required surgery in November to repair.

Cleveland invested $230 million fully guaranteed in Watson after dealing away three first-round picks and a handful of other draft assets to acquire him from the Houston Texans in March 2022. This is probably a make-or-break season for Watson as the starter in Cleveland, and the team has a legitimate shot to make some noise in the playoffs due to its No. 1 defense in 2023 returning most of its key contributors.

Cooper and tight end David Njoku are coming off of Pro Bowl seasons and Kevin Stefanski is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year. Solidifying the tackle positions and adding a legitimate No. 2 receiver are the only real holes for the Browns to fill outside of the question marks they face with Watson under center.

As such, addressing those two spots on the roster will likely be among Cleveland’s top priorities when the new league year opens on March 13. Williams offers the team a reasonably-priced option with strong upside and legitimate ties to Watson, which renders him an obvious offseason target for the Browns.

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