Browns QB Deshaun Watson Issues Strong Message on Amari Cooper Amid Holdout

Browns receiver Amari Cooper skipped the first day of mandatory minicamp and is looking for an extension.

Getty Images Browns receiver Amari Cooper skipped the first day of mandatory minicamp and is looking for an extension.

Amari Cooper skipped the first day of the Cleveland Browns‘ mandatory minicamp but quarterback Deshaun Watson has his back.

Cooper is entering the final year of his deal and is looking for a new contract. Skipping the first mandatory workouts of the offseason sends a message to the team that he’d like something to get done sooner rather than later. Cooper can be fined for his non-excused absence from the workouts.

Ideally, the Browns would have all their weapons assembled as they install the offense under new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. However, Watson is confident that when Cooper shows up, he’ll be ready to roll.

“Amari is our brother, our teammate,” Watson said on Tuesday, June 11. “We support him and the decisions that he’s got to make for himself. Everyone in his locker room respects him and knows exactly what he’s about and whenever he gets back he’s going to be ready to go.”

Cooper carried the Browns’ offense last season despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks. He racked up 1,250 yards on 72 catches. Cooper’s standout performance came on Christmas Eve against the Houston Texans. He caught 11 passes for 265 yards — a franchise single-game record.

“He’s the best in the game,” Watson said. “I believe that he shows it each and every year. He’s showns it the last two years with different quarterbacks so I think you’ve got to put him up there if not the best.”

Browns React to Amari Cooper Skipping Minicamp

Frankly, the Browns cannot afford to lose Cooper and he’s deserving of an extension. He’s posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since landing in Cleveland. The Browns also don’t have another receiver who could slide into the No. 1 spot.

Cleveland is integrating new receiver Jerry Jeudy into the offense. The team also hopes Elijah Moore can improve during his second season with the Browns. Moore caught a career-high 59 passes last season for 640 yards. He’s also heading into the final year of his contract.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is focused on the players in attendance and is leaving the Cooper situation to the front office.

“You really have to focus on the guys that are here,” Stefanski said. “These situations, I understand that they do come up. I’ll really leave all of that between Amari and Amari’s agent, AB (general manager Andrew Berry) and those type of conversations.”

Browns Want to Keep Amari Cooper Around

Part of Cooper’s issue could be that Cleveland already doled out an extension to a receiver the offseason. The Browns inked Jeudy to a three-year extension after executing a trade for him in March.

It will pay Jeudy up to $58 million. Of that money, $41 million is fully guaranteed. The team officially announced the extension on Tuesday, March 19.

That being said, the Browns and Berry have been clear that Cooper is someone they’d like to keep around.

“Look, Coop is a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver,” Berry said. “He’s played really well for us the past two years. He’s a strong presence in the locker room. We love him. So players like that, you want to make sure that you can retain as long as possible and we’ll work through all of that at the appropriate times.”

Wide receiver contracts skyrocketed this offseason. Justin Jefferson signed a $140 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings. AJ Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles also re-upped on an extension that pays him $32 million annually. It’s a good indicator for Cooper, who won’t reset the market but could cash in significantly.

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