The Cleveland Browns‘ priorities at wide receiver appear to have changed since the team picked up two pass catchers during this year’s NFL Draft.
The Browns have been active on the offensive side of the ball since the end of a disappointing 2021 campaign, trading with the Dallas Cowboys in March to acquire wideout Amari Cooper in one of the better offseason value moves across all of the NFL. Just over one week later, the Browns executed a $230 million coup to strike a deal for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has effectively supplanted four-year starter Baker Mayfield under center.
Shortly after that potentially conference-shifting development, reports emerged of “mutual interest” in a reunion between Cleveland and former wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who was cut from the Browns roster two days after the team acquired Cooper in the name of saving approximately $15 million against the salary cap. However, after drafting David Bell out of Purdue University in the the third round (No. 99 overall) and Michael Woods II out of Oklahoma University in the sixth round (No. 202 overall) over the weekend, it appears the Browns are less bullish on bringing Landry back into the fold.
Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report and 247 Sports reported Friday, May 6, that discussions about bringing Landry back to the Browns locker room have cooled off. However, the doesn’t mean the wide receiver won’t be playing in Cleveland at all next season.
“Free agent WR Jarvis Landry has not heard from the #Browns as of late following the team drafting two WRs in the NFL Draft, per a league source,” Stainbrook wrote. “I’m told another team in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens, have expressed interest in Landry since the draft ended.”
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Ravens Have Expressed Serious Interest in Signing Former Browns WR Jarvis Landry
The Ravens traded traded wide receiver Marquise Brown and a third-round selection to the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the draft on Thursday, April 28, for the No. 23 overall pick. That decision left the cupboard relatively bare for Baltimore’s former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, with Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II as the top three pass catchers remaining on the roster.
While the Ravens tend to use Jackson’s legs as much as his arm to supplement their offensive attack, the team clearly needs an upgrade at wide receiver to pair some talent alongside tight end Mark Andrews, who signed a four-year extension worth $56 million with Baltimore in September of last year.
Adding Landry to the mix would, at least ostensibly, be an upgrade at the position compared to what the Ravens have on their roster currently. That should be true even despite a career-low season for Landry with the Browns in 2021, which saw the five-time Pro Bowler catch just 52 passes for 570 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.
Cash Likely Top Concern For Browns in Talks Over Landry’s Possible Return
Beyond Landry’s production issues last season, he also dealt with serious injury concerns that hampered him for much of the year. Both of those issues may have played factors in the Browns’ decision to look elsewhere at wide receiver, aside from the fact that the team was able to land two wideouts they like in Bell and Woods.
But perhaps the biggest reason Cleveland has chilled on the idea of a Landry return is the amount of money he is likely to cost compared to the young players they opted for in the draft.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported in March that Landry’s camp was looking for a contract in the range of $20 million per season. Spotrac, which tracks player salaries and values across the NFL, estimates that Landry’s annual value is in the ballpark of $12 million — leaving a considerable gap between what Landry might expect and what the Browns might be willing, or even able, to actually pay.
As of Friday, the Browns had approximately $24 million in cap space remaining for the 2022 season, but will likely look to bolster multiple positions on the defensive line, including potentially bringing back edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney for upwards of $12 million annually over the next two years.