3 contract decisions that will pay off for Cleveland Browns

  • A big-time 2023 free agent pickup
  • A 2022 trade and restructure
  • Keeping Za'Darius Smith around for the long-term
Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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2. Trading for WR Amari Cooper, restructuring his deal

Last offseason, the Dallas Cowboys were looking to get Amari Cooper's contract off the books. Looking back on it now, the Cowboys' rush to get rid of Cooper was one of the worst decisions they made as a franchise last offseason, and the Cleveland Browns were there to capitalize on their horrendous mistake.

The Browns traded a 5th-round pick and swapped 6th-round picks with the Cowboys to acquire Cooper, who is currently one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL and now the focal point of the Browns' passing game. Although Cooper is 29 this coming season, he's fresh off of arguably the best year of his NFL career in which he racked up 78 receptions for 1,160 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. His 61 first-down receptions were also the most he's ever had in a single season as an NFL player.

Cooper is getting better with age, and the Browns gave up just about nothing to get him.

After trading for Cooper, the Browns converted $18.88 million of Cooper's 2022 base salary into a signing bonus which created $15 million in cap space for them at the time. The point isn't necessarily to applaud Browns GM Andrew Berry for kicking the proverbial can down the road, it's being willing to do what it takes to get a receiver like Cooper in the building.

He may not be Ja'Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson, but Cooper is a QB's best friend and he's going to be instrumental in getting Deshaun Watson back to the player he once was. Having a veteran like this to lead your wide receiver room was such an important move and Berry didn't scoff at the chance to take on Cooper's contract because he understood what he can do to help the team.