Browns WR Gets Grim Reality Check as DeAndre Hopkins Rumors Swirl

General manager Andrew Berry of the Cleveland Browns

Getty General manager Andrew Berry of the Cleveland Browns.

Anthony Schwartz’s time with the Cleveland Browns appears to be reaching its conclusion after an offseason where the team made significant upgrades at the wide receiver position.

The speedy former third-round pick has been unable to get on the field with the Browns and now finds himself buried on the depth chart behind the likes of newcomers Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin, as well as young guns David Bell and rookie Cedric Tillman.

There are also rumors that the Browns could land DeAndre Hopkins, which would almost eliminate the possibility of Schwartz making the 53-man roster.

Schwartz has to battle for a roster spot and has been unable to get on the field for OTAs, per Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland.

“In two OTA practices viewed by the media, Schwartz hasn’t even practiced due to some undisclosed injury,” Grossi wrote in his latest Q&A column. “Let’s be honest, if Schwartz wasn’t a third-round draft pick, he wouldn’t have made the team in 2021 or 2022.”

The Browns could cut Schwartz prior to the season or decide to find a suitor for his services via trade, which is what Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox laid out. Per B/R:

Though the 22-year-old has two years remaining on his rookie contract, there just isn’t a clear path to playing time for him in Cleveland. Trading him would free up a roster spot for the Browns while clearing $1.1 million in 2023 cap space.

Would Cleveland get a massive return? No, but teams are often willing to bet on speed, and Schwartz ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. The Browns have been unable to turn that speed into production, but it’s not hard to envision another team surrendering a late pick to get a crack at the challenge.

The Browns need some draft capital, even if it’s in the later rounds. General manager Andrew Berry has been able to find some gems and it could help the team regain some of what they’ve lost in various trades.

Anthony Schwartz Has Speed But Has Not Produced

Schwartz has just 14 catches for 186 yards since arriving in 2021 and his miscues have become more of the storyline. He was given some opportunity in the preseason but struggled with drops and overall consistency. During a preseason contest last season, he was booed by the home crowd.

“He’s very accountable. I know he wants to be better,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said at the time. “I know he’ll work very hard. All of our guys are going to continue to try to get better, and I know Anthony will, as well.”

There’s also the fact that the Browns now have Goodwin on the roster, who is a more proven deep threat. He’s already shown off his world-class speed during OTAs and a good connection with Deshaun Watson.

“I think I’m pretty much in my prime, so I don’t think I lost any speed. It’s kind of like fine wine. You just get better with time,” the 32-year-old Goodwin said during OTAs.

Browns Favorite to Land DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins

GettyFree agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

The Browns and Hopkins have a mutual interest and Cleveland is established as the betting favorite to land the former All-Pro. The Browns are +125 to sign Hopkins, with the Detroit Lions (+380) and Buffalo Bills (+550) also in the mix, per DraftKings Sportsbook.

Hopkins has a decorated resume but played in just nine games last season with the Arizona Cardinals, notching 717 yards on 64 grabs with three touchdowns. He was released in May in a significant cap-saving move by the Cardinals.

Linking up with Watson could be his best move as a free agent, although there are some questions about what he’d like to make on his next deal. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 in Houston: “Odell Beckham Jr.’s $18 million maximum value contract is regarded as a potential benchmark for a Hopkins deal.”

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