Amari Cooper’s contract will be something the Cleveland Browns look at carefully this offseason as they look to get their cap situation under control.
Due to his hefty cap hit coming up next season, Cooper was listed by Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com as a player the Browns will look to restructure, trade or cut this offseason in an effort to improve the roster.
“The problem is, Cooper has a cap hit of $23.77 million for 2023, and is one of a number of candidates to be cut, traded or restructured to add more talent. If he’s designated a June 1 cut or trade, the Browns would save $20 million on the cap, a tantalizing prospect despite his immense talent,” Cabot wrote. “A four-time Pro Bowler, Cooper might also need surgery this offseason to repair the core muscle injury, and if he doesn’t get it, he could struggle at times in 2023 like he did down the stretch in 2022.”
It’d be hard to say Cooper didn’t live up to his billing last season following an offseason trade from the Dallas Cowboys, catching 78 passes for 1,160 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. That being said, there were games where he didn’t have as much of an impact, which wasn’t always his fault due to the injury and fluctuating QB situation.
Browns in Need of Wide Receiver Help This Offseason
With the lack of wide receiver talent currently on the roster, it’d be blasphemy for the Browns to part ways with Cooper unless they had a plan to upgrade the unit.
One name that has been mentioned is former Deshaun Watson teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who is expected to be shopped by the Cardinals this offseason.
Hopkins is a three-time First-Team All-Pro selection and has six thousand-yard seasons to his name. However, he’s coming off some rough years that have been hampered by injury and suspension. He played in just nine games this season with the Cardinals, notching 717 yards on 64 grabs with three touchdowns.
Like Cooper, it comes down to money with Hopkins, who has two years and $34.36 million left on his current contract. However, he is in search of a new deal, per Jordan Schultz of theScore. If he offered the chance to reunite with Watson, perhaps he’d be willing to take a more team-friendly deal by restructuring, similar to what Cooper did shortly after landing in Cleveland.
Safety John Johnson Another Player to Keep an Eye on
On the defensive side of the ball, safety John Johnson III is a player to keep an eye on when it comes to a potential restructure, cut or trade. He signed a three-year deal worth $33.75 million in 2021, which included $24 million guaranteed. However, he has not been the force the Browns expected when they signed him to that deal.
Last season, Johnson was ranked 57th among qualifying safeties by Pro Football Focus and 85th in tackling.
But with new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz coming in to replace Joe Woods, perhaps the Browns could get more out of Johnson and capitalize on the versatility he showed with the Rams prior to signing with the Browns.