Browns Issue 5-Word Statement on Amari Cooper’s Holdout

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper is holding out for a new contract.

Getty Images Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper is holding out for a new contract.

Amari Cooper is holding out for an extension but the Cleveland Browns are hopeful they can resolve the situation with their unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver.

Cooper was not present for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, June 11. That opens him up to fines. He can be fined a total of $101,716 if he skips all three days. That’s frankly chump change to Cooper to make a point. He’s scheduled to make $20 million in the final year of his contract with the Browns.

Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson and Miami Dolphins pass-catcher Jaylen Waddle recently signed big-money deals, ushering in a new era of lucrative wide receiver contacts.

Cooper is well-deserving of an extension, although the 29-year-old is unlikely to reset the market with a deal. He’s coming off a Pro Bowl year and has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons despite some uncertainty at the quarterback position in Cleveland.

Browns skipper Kevin Stefanski could not confirm that Cooper had requested an extension. However, he said Cooper’s reps and the team have been discussing it.

“There has been a dialogue,” Stefanski said.

Browns Leaving Amari Cooper Situation to Front Office

Stefanski did not go into too much detail on Cooper’s absence and is leaving it in the hands of the front office.

“Not excused, obviously, as you guys know, you really have to focus on the guys that are here. These situations. I understand that they do come up,” Stefanski said. “I’ll really leave all of that between Amari and Amari’s agent, AB (Andrew Berry) and those type of conversations. But again, as you guys know, we focus on guys that are here. We’ll get some good work in and really keep it at that.”

The Browns are installing a new offense with offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey taking over the unit. Stefanski doesn’t see Cooper’s absence as an issue. The Browns were also without Jerry Jeudy on Tuesday, who is “working through some things” per Stefanski. Jeudy arrived via an offseason trade and inked a three-year extension that will pay him up to $58 million.

“It doesn’t really impact your installation,” Stefanski said. “You know, we’ve been installing all the way back to April, so we really have our schedule and we’re getting everybody up to speed and the guys are working hard at it, but that doesn’t really affect that.”

Amari Cooper Has Leverage on Browns

Cooper is turning 30 this month and this could be his final opportunity to cash in big. He’s been reliable for the Browns and is a consistently great teammate. Zac Jackson of the Athletic believes Cooper has leverage over the Browns as he seeks an extension.

“This one could go a number of different ways, and it will be interesting to eventually hear Cooper address it directly, but Cooper knows the Browns need him and he wants to be paid accordingly,” Jackson said. “It’s not that Cooper wanted the money the team gave Jerry Jeudy in March. It’s almost certainly that Cooper wants some level of security and commitment for what he’s done.”

The Browns have publicly stated that they’d like to keep Cooper around beyond this season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson also supports him.

“Amari is our brother, our teammate,” Watson said on Tuesday. “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.”

The Browns open the season on September 8 against Cooper’s former team — the Dallas Cowboys.

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