Cleveland Browns hoping to keep wide receiver Amari Cooper ‘as long as possible’

The Cleveland Browns traded for wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in March and signed him to a three-year, $52.5 million contract extension. But Jeudy wasn’t targeted as a replacement for another former Alabama wide receiver.

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Amari Cooper is entering the final season of his contract, and Browns general manager Andrew Berry said Cleveland hopes to retain him beyond the 2024 campaign.

“Coop’s a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver,” Berry said. “He’s played really well for us the past two years. He’s a strong presence in the locker room. We love him, so players like that you want to make sure you can retain as long as possible. We’ll work through all that at the appropriate time.”

Cooper recorded a career-high 1,250 yards on 72 receptions, with five touchdowns, in 2023. With his seventh 1,000-yard season, Cooper received his fifth Pro Bowl invitation.

In 2022, Cleveland obtained Cooper and a sixth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft from the Dallas Cowboys for 2022 fifth- and sixth-round draft picks.

Cooper was two seasons into a five-year, $100 million contract that had become too rich for the Cowboys’ taste after he had 68 receptions for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021. Dallas traded Cooper just days before his $20 million salary for the 2022 season was to become guaranteed.

“The issue with Amari Cooper was how much we were paying him and what we could do with that money completely,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said at the time. “Amari Cooper is a real good player, top player and should be able to be on any team there is in the NFL. But do you want to allocate that much money to it or do you have that much allocation or would you rather have a better offensive line, would you rather have a better pass rush?

“You can’t have it all.”

When Cooper signed the contract with Dallas in 2020, he had the only $100 million deal among the NFL’s wide receivers. This season, three more will be playing on nine-figure contracts – the Las Vegas Raiders’ Davante Adams, Philadelphia Eagles’ A.J. Brown and Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill.

Still at $20 million per season, Cooper’s pay for 2024 is tied for eighth among the NFL’s wide receivers.

At $19 million, Jeudy’s compensation for 2024 isn’t far behind Cooper’s.

The best of Jeudy’s four NFL seasons came in 2022, when he had 67 receptions for 972 yards and six touchdowns, and he has averaged 53 receptions for 763 yards during his career.

Cooper has averaged 74 receptions for 1,054 yards during his career. Cooper has caught 60 touchdown passes. Jeudy has 11.

But Berry said the Browns got a good deal signing Jeudy when they did.

“One of the things that we feel like is a competitive advantage for us has been our contract-management philosophy,” Berry said. “We’re firm believers that in that space the best front offices or the best teams are proactive as opposed to reactionary in market dynamics. … In Jerry’s case, you already saw two new receiver contracts enter the market that really are harbingers of things to come in that market. Probably by Week 1 of the NFL season, the top of that market’s going to be north of $30 million.

“And so as we think of the contract-management space, rather than be reactive to new market dynamics, we try to be proactive, and probably more importantly, when we think about an extension or a signing, we think about, ‘OK, where’s the market actually going to be on Sept. 1 as opposed to maybe an irrelevant market on March 1,’ so to speak.”

Jeudy joins a wide-receiver corps that brings back its top four pass-catchers from 2023 with Cooper, Elijah Moore, Cedric Tillman and David Bell. The Browns also have tight end David Njoku, who had 81 receptions last season.

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