After smell of Odell Beckham Jr., Browns take another big swing at No. 1 WR in Amari Cooper – Cleveland Browns Blog

BEREA, Ohio — Three years ago to the day, the Cleveland Browns made a blockbuster trade for the player they thought would be their No. 1 long-term wide receiver for aspiring quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Odell Beckham Jr., however, never materialized into the Pro Bowl performer in Cleveland that he had been for the New York Giants.

Instead, he suffered injuries. He produced distractions, as reportedly telling teams to “get me” out of Cleveland during the 2019 season. Then he basically forced his exit midway through the 2021 season via his dad, who posted a video about the social media highlighting the times Mayfield failed to throw the ball to Beckham or missed it when open.

The Browns summarily released OBJ, who then played again with the Los Angeles Rams en route to winning a Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Mayfield — playing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing left shoulder since Week 2 — continued to struggle. Cleveland’s passing game has plummeted. And the Browns missed the playoffs en route to a disappointing 8-9 finish.

But as the Browns attempt to revamp their beleaguered passing offense, they’ve now taken another massive hit against a big name, potential No. 1 receiver.

On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys agreed to trade Amari Cooper to the Browns for a 2022 fifth-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The teams will also trade sixth-round picks in 2022.

Essentially, Cleveland is banking on Cooper being able to give their offense what Beckham never could — a legit wide receiver.

Since making his Dallas debut in Week 9 of the 2018 season, Cooper has ranked eighth in the league in targets (428) among receivers, seventh in receptions (292), ninth in receiving yards (3,893) and ninth in receiving touchdowns (27), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

He has a reputation as an excellent road runner who can get open, which should benefit Mayfield greatly, assuming the Browns stick with him as a quarterback.

ESPN’s Kimberley Martin reported that Cleveland inquired about Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. A grand jury in Houston voted on Friday not to indict Watson on criminal charges. He still faces 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and improper conduct during massage sessions.

Landing Cooper would surely make the Browns a more attractive destination for Watson, who would have to waive a no-trade clause to come to Cleveland.

But assuming Browns general manager Andrew Berry remains committed to Mayfield — as he’s indicated publicly and also privately, sources say, this offseason — Cooper should bolster the Browns’ passing game and give Mayfield the weapon he’ll need to deliver a season bounce back in his fifth year at Cleveland.

According to research from ESPN Stats & Information, Mayfield had the worst TD-to-interception ratio (6-to-10) versus non-rookie in the NFL last year. He also had the third-worst QBR (54.0) targeting wide receivers.

Mayfield hasn’t performed to his abilities with the shoulder injury as he failed to rekindle his form in 2020 when he led the Browns to their first playoff win in 26 years . But Cleveland’s receiving corps — made up of Beckham for less than half the season, Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Ja’Marcus Bradley and rookie Anthony Schwartz — was also disappointing.

No Browns have exceeded 600 receiving yards, and only Landry has had more than 35 receptions (the Browns have now granted Landry permission to seek a trade elsewhere, according to Schefter).

Cooper should pressure opposing defenses and unlock passing plays in a way Cleveland’s receiving corps couldn’t last year.

While in Dallas, Cooper had the best vertical target catching percentage (53.3%) of any receiver in the league with at least 90 or more vertical targets, according to an ESPN Stats & Information study using NFL Next. Gen Stats. He also tied for the fourth most touchdowns on vertical targets with 17, behind only Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs, Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks.

Meanwhile, in 29 games with the Browns, Beckham had just 26 catches on 73 vertical targets (35.6%) and just four touchdowns on vertical routes.

The Browns might not be done modernizing the receiving corps, either. They own the No. 13 pick in the April draft, which could give them the chance to pick a top receiver — like the one from Ohio State. Chris Olave Where Garrett Wilson (who went to the same Texas high school as Mayfield), USC Drake London or Arkansas Treylon Burk – to complete Cooper, who would completely transform Cleveland’s receiving unit.

Either way, the Browns already have that coveted No. 1 receiver in their hands.

This time, they’re counting on Cooper so he can be one on the court in Cleveland.

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