Analyzing the construction of the Browns wide receiver room
What the future of the Browns WR room could look like
While the Browns should be applauded for revamping their wide receiver room in a fiscally responsible way, the real headline is the flexibility they have afforded themselves going forward at the position.
The most immediate relief it could provide is with the impending contract year of DPJ. 2023 is a massive year for Peoples-Jones, as it gives the fourth-year receiver an opportunity to cash in as a free agent at season's end.
It is completely plausible that DPJ performs to a level that could effectively outprice himself from remaining in Cleveland. The way the free agent market for wide receivers works, if DPJ sees just a slight uptick in production from what he had in 2022, he could easily get upwards of 15 million a year on the open market. And that is exactly what he should do if he finds himself in that position.
But with the selection of Tillman in the NFL draft, the Browns have insulated themselves with an in-house X-receiver that possesses almost all of DPJ’s traits. While Tillman isn't a carbon copy of Peoples-Jones, he could provide the Browns an immediate replacement while not adding to the growing list of massive contracts Cleveland already has on the books.
Or 2023 could go in a different direction, and the team could look to get out from under Amari Cooper’s contract in 2024 if his production starts to dip. Cooper is under contract, not counting void years, through 2024 and would be due $23,776,000 in his final season. The Browns could save $12 million on their cap by releasing Cooper at that time.
This is where the positional versatility of Elijah Moore is huge. While Moore is presumed to be in line to see a ton of snaps in the slot in 2023, it could be argued that his skills would be best utilized with him as a Z-receiver on the outside.
So, while the Browns are clearly in win-now mode, they have set their wide receiver room up with the future in mind as well. That is not an easy balancing act to pull off, and Berry had to utilize every tool of roster construction to achieve it.
By land, by air, and by sea, Berry gave his quarterback the weapons he needed to be successful in 2023 and beyond. The rest is up to Watson and Stefanski.