The Browns knew that they’d have to go through part of the offseason without their lead receiver, Amari Cooper, after he underwent core surgery back in February. Luckily for Cleveland, Cooper is already back working with teammates, missing a fairly minimal amount of offseason work, according to Tony Grossi of 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Cooper is a crucial returning member of the Browns offense. After a down 2021 season in Dallas that saw him fail to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2017, Cooper rebounded beautifully in Cleveland as a top target for quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Deshaun Watson. He delivered a masterful performance in his age-28 season, catching 78 passes for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns, leading the team in all three categories.
Cleveland also returns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and tight end David Njoku, who ranked second and third on the team in the different receiving categories, but after them, production dropped off dramatically, making Cooper’s presence in the offense that much more crucial. The Browns did trade for former Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore, who had varying levels of success in New York and signed veteran Marquise Goodwin, who has historically been a strong contributor throughout his career. Those additions should take some of the pressure off of young receivers Cedric Tillman (2023 third-round pick out of Tennessee), David Bell, Anthony Schwartz, and Jaelon Darden to be immediate contributors.
The team has also been exploring the possibility of reuniting Watson with his former Houston teammate, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Having a top-three of Hopkins, Cooper, and Peoples-Jones would improve the team’s talent in the room from good to elite. The addition of Hopkins has been deemed “unlikely,” but it’s still apparently on the table. With neither Hopkins nor Cooper, the Browns top-three would be Peoples-Jones, Goodwin, and Bell or Tillman, making Cooper’s return all the more relieving.
Regardless, Cooper is back with plenty of time to get back in shape for the regular season. He’ll be working to get fully healthy while continuing to build on his rapport with Watson in preparation for a full season with Watson behind center.