Amari Cooper is traded to the Cleveland Browns
Amari Cooper is a very receptive person. However, he was not as good as Odell Beckham Jr when he left New York for Cleveland. Sure, you can make some arguments against the following statement. For example, maybe Cooper hasn’t been a real #1 in Dallas since CeeDee Lamb got there. Doubtful, but I can see the argument. Maybe Cooper is a better fit in Cleveland than OBJ? Maybe, but they’re pretty similar in what they bring to the table, so again, it’s questionable.
Cooper can claim he is the best receiver in the league, but he has struggled to earn that reputation for his team, let alone the NFL. Now, he’s switched to an extremely frequent run-of-the-mill attacking play. In fact, the Browns are the only team in the NFL that hit the ball more 47 percent of their play last season ended the regular season with a losing record. They hold the ball 6% more often than the Dallas Cowboys and the Cowboys are consistently ahead in games – 48.3% pass percentage in the CLE compared to 42.2% in the DAL. They have an incentive to run the ball. Cleveland, not much. Well, I don’t think Cooper will explode next season, especially if the Browns keep bringing on Baker Mayfield.
Since 2018, Cooper has always thrived in the deep middle of this sector. His average target depth has never dropped below 8.8 since then and never gone higher than 12.5. By comparison, Deebo Samuel, a notoriously short YAC/yardage receiver, has scored 7.5, 2.2, and 8.4 in his three-year career. On the other hand, Mike Williams, considered a deep threat to Chargers until last season, recorded ADoT’s 12.7, 16.6 and 12.4 between 2018 and 2020. Cooper works in between the two, maybe a little more on the latter, but still in the middle.
Mayfield has always struggled in that mid-to-deep range. In 2020, arguably the best season of his career, Mayfield placed 23rd in IQR intermediate throw, a measure of a midfielder’s effectiveness, similar to a passer rating that is said to eliminate factors beyond the midfielder’s control such as skips and throw-ins. Yes, Prescott ranked lower than Mayfield that season, but Prescott also played in just five games that year. Basically, even in his best season, Mayfield wasn’t exactly great at throwing in where Cooper thrived.
Remember that the Browns’ WR Jarvis Landry was also authorized to trade today.
Currently, the Browns have no credible targets other than Cooper and Landry. Without Landry, teams will focus more on Cooper in coverage. With Mike Williams re-signing to the Chargers, and Chris Godwin tagging the franchise and working on an extension with the Bucs, there aren’t so many vast collectors left. Both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Allen Robinson are still free agents. It’s possible that the Browns could focus on signing one of them, but their timing would likely be better trying to trade for a quarterback upgrade.
All of this being said, I still think this is a solid deal for Cleveland. A fifth and a sixth? What is it all about for a lad who is new to the field with 865 yards, an eight-game encounter season, one of the worst seasons of his career and a sixth? Yeah, I’ll take that any day of the week. While Cooper may not be as effectively used as he or any fan would like, he certainly deserves what the Browns spent. They took advantage of a bad Dallas team situation and got OBJ’s replacement.
Beckham showed that he still has a lot of stuff left in his tank after being swapped out of the Browns. He was merely the victim of an offense that did not take advantage of him. Many considered him washed up by the time he started complaining about his target market share. I fear a similar fate could befall Cooper in 2022. While Cooper remains an extremely talented and respected collector across the league, his talent will more or less be wasted. in Cleveland’s heinous offense.