It used to be that players shied away from the Cleveland Browns. They were a perennial loser and widely perceived as a poorly-run organization. They still lost last year, and there are indications that the manner in which they are run still bears serious questioning, but at least the questions raised are of a different nature.
It’s not uncommon now for players to sign as free agents and actually talk about how they were attracted to what the team is doing, rather than it being overwhelmingly transparent that they signed the deal that gave them the most money. Still, not everyone ends up here voluntarily.
Amari Cooper, for example, was recently acquired via trade, and is now their top wide receiver. Still, he is at least saying the right things, which is what you would expect from an experienced veteran player who is making $20 million.
He talked about being comfortable in Cleveland and in the offense, via the team’s website, following a minicamp practice last week. “There’s great tradition here, a great football environment, which I love. I think this place suits me really well, actually — my personality and everything like that”.
One thing that attracted him in particular was head coach Kevin Stefanski, whose demeanor he feels meshes well with his own. The nature of their meetings and the general comings and goings of being in the team facility, perhaps, offers some aspects that are favorable to what he experienced in Las Vegas and Dallas.
“All I had to do was focus on what I wanted to”, he said of his early experience as a Brown. “I didn’t put an emphasis on having fun in college, although I did have fun. That wasn’t what I was there for, and that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to be a great player. I still want to accomplish a lot of things, and I feel like I can do that here”.
The fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Cooper has been a part of three winning teams before—the 2016 Raiders, and the 2018 and 2021 Cowboys. He has appeared in four postseason games, experiencing one victory, with the Cowboys, in 2018.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Cooper has recorded 517 receptions in his career for 7,076 yards and 46 touchdowns. He has five 1,000-yard seasons. Though he has never caught more than eight touchdowns in a single season, he tied his career mark just last year. He has also proven to be fairly surehanded over the course of his career.
Now, having worked with Derek Carr and Dak Prescott for the majority of his career, when they have been healthy, his next quarterback is yet another Pro Bowler, Deshaun Watson—depending upon whenever he might be eligible to play. Recent reports have indicated that a full-season suspension is on the table, so Cooper may have to wait until 2023 to play with somebody other than Jacoby Brissett, or, dare I say it, Baker Mayfield.