The Cleveland Browns assembled a quality set of pass-catchers this season but may be able to add another with WR1 potential at a reasonable cost.
Cory Kinnan of USA Today’s Browns Wire on Tuesday, September 26, pitched four trades Cleveland can pursue with the Denver Broncos should the 0-3 team decide to become sellers ahead of the NFL’s trade deadline in October. The most intriguing of the proposals involves wide receiver and former first-round pick Jerry Jeudy.
The Browns had significant interest in wideout Jerry Jeudy in the offseason, and the price has only gone down since then. They instead acquired Elijah Moore for basically free.
However, there is still a ton of uncertainty in the Cleveland wide receiver room beyond 2023, and if [the team] were to pick up … Jeudy, he would give them an elite separator for another two years.
Kinnan mentioned that the presumed asking price for Jeudy last season was a second-round pick. Cleveland has both a second- and a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Trade for Jerry Jeudy Offers Browns High-End Talent, Financial Flexibility
Denver’s offense isn’t lighting the world on fire, scoring just 23 points per game.
New head coach Sean Payton was supposed to come in and fix all the mistakes Nathaniel Hackett made with QB Russell Wilson on their way to a 4-11 record in 2022, before the Broncos fired Hackett late into his first season. Wilson’s efficiency numbers are unquestionably better under Payton, but the offense is going nowhere and Jeudy is about to get expensive — and the Browns can afford him.
Jeudy is playing on the fourth year of his $15.2 million rookie deal in 2023, though as a first-round pick the Broncos have already exercised their team option to keep him under contract for an extra season through 2024. Denver will owe Jeudy $13 million next year, and Spotrac projects the receiver’s market value going forward at north of $20 million annually over a four-year deal.
It is easier for teams to push salary cap hits into the future at the beginning of a new contract rather than at the end. Cooper, for instance, will carry a nearly $24 million cap hit next season — a little more than half of which the Browns can save by cutting him. Cooper will be 30 years old in 2024 while Jeudy will play at 25. Also, Jeudy’s next contract can be structured in a way that will be more affordable over the first couple of seasons, when quarterback Deshaun Watson’s cap hit will cost the Browns $64 million annually.
Jeudy has a cap hit of less than $5 million this season, while Cleveland currently has more than $34.5 million in available space.
Jerry Jeudy’s NFL Production Skewed by Bad QBs, Offenses
Jeudy has not been as productive as Cooper through his first four NFL seasons, though at least some of that must be chalked up to constipated offenses captained by bad and/or aging quarterbacks in Denver.
He put up career-highs of 67 catches for 972 yards and 6 touchdowns across 15 games played in 2022, per Pro Football Reference. Wilson has targeted Jeudy just 12 times in two appearances this season, which has led to 8 catches for 106 yards. Still, Pro Football Focus has Jeudy currently ranked as the 44th best wide receiver out of 111 who qualify at the position based on advanced metrics.
In an offense with a top-notch line and quality playmakers — like the one the Browns appear to have through three weeks this season — Jeudy has the physical skill set to thrive.