Donovan Peoples-Jones will be extension-eligible this offseason but the Cleveland Browns will likely hold off on making a move.
Peoples-Jones was a sixth-round pick of the Browns in 2020 and has outplayed that draft position. He spent last season firmly slotted into the No. 2 wide receiver role in Cleveland, finishing second on the team with 61 receptions for 839 yards and three touchdowns.
Despite that production, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com does not believe the Browns will offer up an extension to Peoples-Jones this offseason, valuing the cheap rookie deal he’s on as they navigate their cap situation with some big contracts on the books. As Cabot notes, it’s not the worst situation for DPJ, who could take another leap next season and end up cashing in.
“Peoples-Jones, who finished second on the team with 61 receptions for 839 yards and three touchdowns, is eligible for an extension this offseason as he heads into the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, but it’s not likely to come at this point,” Cabot wrote.
She added: “The Browns, who need some inexpensive players on the books, would probably be more likely to revisit the matter during or after next season. That would give Peoples-Jones, their sixth-round pick in 2020 out of Michigan, a chance to further establish himself as a bona fide No. 2 receiver and position himself for an even bigger payday after the 2023 season.”
Peoples-Jones’ cap hit for next season is $2.788 million.
Browns Will Search for Speedy WR in Free Agency
The Browns will be in the market for speed this offseason, looking for someone who can complement Peoples-Jones and No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper. Neither have elite speed and a player who could stretch the defense would be key in opening up the offense.
The Browns still have Anthony Schwartz — a third-round pick in 2021 — on the roster. Schwartz ran the fastest 40-yard dash in his draft class but has not been able to grow into a contributor for the Browns. Drops and miscues have plagued him in the early part of his career.
Schwartz appeared in 11 games, notching just 10 targets, four receptions and 51 yards.
The Browns have limited cap space but can open up some additional space this offseason with cuts and restructures. General manager Andrew Berry sounded very confident at his end-of-season press conference when asked about the team’s ability to make moves, despite giving up a haul of picks last offseason for Deshaun Watson.
“We will have more than enough in terms of resources, picks, dollars and cap space to fortify the roster in the areas that we need to,” Berry said.
Browns WR Amari Cooper Likely Restructure Target
The Browns made a move last offseason for wide receiver Amari Cooper, snagging him in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys. It paid off, with Cooper snagging 78 receptions for 1,160 yards and 9 touchdowns.
However, his cap hit is $23.776 million for next season. The Browns can save $20 million if he’s released or traded as a June 1 designation, although that’s very unlikely unless they feel they could wrangle another elite player that could fill the hole.
Names that have been mentioned for the Browns this offseason include DeAndre Hopkins, who is expected to be traded from the Cardinals this offseason, and Brandin Cooks, who is in a similar situation in Houston.