The Cleveland Browns may eventually have to make a decision between Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones and a noted NFL insider believes that the team would opt for the more youthful — and cheaper — option.
Peoples-Jones will be a free agent next offseason and another season of improvement will earn him a nice pay raise. He’s a terrific bargain for the Browns currently, with the sixth-round pick on the books for $2.73 million for next season.
Cooper has two more years left on his deal but the Browns could decide to go in a different direction and save a good chunk of money against the cap.
If the Browns are forced to choose, Albert Breer of the MMQB believes Cleveland would go with Peoples-Jones.
“Probably Peoples-Jones, just because he’s younger and he’s homegrown,” Breer said on The Afternoon Drive on 92.3 The Fan. “At this point, if you wanted to do an extension, it’d be a lot cheaper.”
Browns Would Need to Find Replacement for Amari Cooper
The Browns could save some money by extending Peoples-Jones over Cooper but it would come with some hurdles. His upside is likely a quality No. 2 pass-catcher, so the Browns would have to pursue a replacement for Cooper and his production.
“If Amari is walking out the door, now you got to figure out what you’re gonna do as far as finding a No. 1,” Breer said. “I don’t know if you push People-Jones out there as your No. 1. You know, that can be a little complicated because you still have another year where you’re not going to have a first-round pick, which means, it’s gonna be hard to find one in the draft and it’s going to be hard to go out and trade for one.”
Cooper did not disappoint during his first year in Cleveland. The 28-year-old caught 78 passes for 1,160 yards with a career-high nine touchdowns last season. And he put up those numbers with Deshaun Watson missing 11 games to start the year and Jacoby Brissett throwing him the ball.
Browns Pleased With Donovan Peoples-Jones
Peoples-Jones has proven to be a late-round gem for the Browns and is coming off a year where he caught 61 passes for 839 yards. He’s continued his progression this offseason and has impressed the Browns’ coaching staff.
“Donovan Peoples-Jones has been outstanding this spring,” receivers coach Chad O’Shea said during minicamp. “I really think he’s made an improvement. He’s been a very good player and a big part of what we do offensively, but this spring he has been so impressive on just the improvement. He’s so coachable. He works so hard and he’s just a great player to have on our team.”
Peoples-Jones might have a little more competition for targets this season. The Browns brought in Elijah Moore, signed veteran free agent Marquise Goodwin and drafted Cedric Tillman in the third round of the draft.