Browns, Amari Cooper Discussing Contract; WR Not Present At Minicamp

When Amari Cooper signed his five-year, $100MM contract in March 2020, he stood as the NFL’s second-highest-paid wide receiver. Multiple market booms have changed his status, and the Browns veteran has tumbled well down the list at his position.

Cooper has joined the list of disgruntled wideouts opting to avoid mandatory minicamp. Kevin Stefanski said Tuesday (via’s Nick Shook) the Pro Bowl receiver is away from the team with an unexcused absence. This follows CeeDee Lamb and Brandon Aiyuk‘s decisions to steer clear of their teams’ minicamps. Cooper will face a $102K fine by avoiding the Browns’ mandatory June workouts.

It is unsurprising to see Cooper staying away. Set to turn 30 next week, the former top-five pick is going into a contract year. Cooper has been Cleveland’s No. 1 wide receiver over the past two seasons, helping the Browns navigate an unstable quarterback situation. After the WR market boom of 2022 and this offseason’s developments, the perennial 1,000-yard target now sits as the NFL’s 20th-highest-paid wideout.

Stefanski confirmed the Browns have engaged in some dialogue regarding Cooper’s contract. GM Andrew Berry suggested earlier this offseason the 2022 trade pickup was on the extension radar. A new deal would both reward Cooper for his contributions since being acquired from the Cowboys and reduce his 2024 cap hit from its $23.78MM place. It would also help the Browns avoid a near-$8MM dead money sum stemming from void years. The team still has time on that front, as that penalty would only come if Cooper is not re-signed before the start of the 2025 league year.

Cooper totaled 1,160 receiving yards in 2022, boosting a Browns team that did not have Deshaun Watson for 11 games due to a suspension. He totaled a career-high 1,250 yards last season, aiding a squad that did not see Watson much and lost its top three tackles along with Nick Chubb. Cooper played a central role in Joe Flacco earning Comeback Player of the Year honors. Last year’s 1,000-yard showing marked the ex-Raider draftee’s seventh as a pro.

The Browns recently extended trade acquisition Jerry Jeudy, and while the ex-Bronco first-rounder’s AAV ($17.5MM) checks in south of Cooper’s number, the zero-time 1,000-yard receiver’s $41MM guarantee at signing sits sixth at the position. The Cowboys guaranteed Cooper $40MM up front when re-signing him in 2020, and that number looked better at the time. But the team passed on paying Cooper’s 2022 salary, sending him to the Browns before a salary guarantee vested. Dallas was prepared to cut Cooper absent a trade, but the Alabama alum has continued to produce.

Daily fines would come into play if Cooper were to consider a holdout. Teams cannot waive the fines of non-rookie-contract players who hold out, and although Chris Jones and Zack Martin staged holdouts last year, this has been a highly uncommon 2020s occurrence due to the CBA including language designed to curb the practice. Cooper holding in, a common route players have taken amid negotiations, would stand to be on the table.

The team still has time to take action on this front, though Cooper’s age offers a slight complication. He joins Tyreek Hill as WRs nearing their age-30 season angling for a contract adjustment. While the Dolphins have the future Hall of Famer tied to a deal that runs through 2026, Cooper entering a contract year makes this a more urgent matter for the Browns.

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