The Cleveland Browns finally have their top receiver with Amari Cooper. While the veteran may not have 10 years left at the top of his game, the team is set for a couple more seasons with him. Cleveland also locked up TE David Njoku as their second weapon in the passing game.
Those two, along with RB Nick Chubb and the rushing attack make a strong trio of offensive weapons. If QB Deshaun Watson can find his footing again, the Browns are set up with a top-level offense.
The uncertainty has been after those talents. WR Anthony Schwartz has struggled to develop in his first two seasons, WR David Bell hasn’t flashed a ton but was never expected to be anything but a possession receiver and TE Harrison Bryant doesn’t seem to be headed toward a second contract.
One player who does seem headed to a second contract and, most likely, a well-paid second contract is Donovan Peoples-Jones. DPJ is having a career year with 53 receptions for 751 yards. With four games remaining, it is possible that the former sixth-round selection could hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark this season.
Last week, his second with Watson at quarterback, Peoples-Jones set single-game marks for his career in both receptions (8) and yards (114). A lot of quality in his play:
Unsure what #Browns fans think, but I'm really optimistic about Donovan Peoples-Jones long term— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) December 14, 2022
Doesn't move like *just* the athlete he was drafted as. Showed a great feel for zone and working back to his QB vs Cincy
A player to watch, even if they add a WR this offseason pic.twitter.com/jRFL1bHK1b
It will be interesting to see if Cleveland’s front office tries to get ahead of free agency with their former late-round draft pick. The receiver market has exploded in the last year. It has made Cooper’s three-year, $60 million contract seem cheap comparably.
While DPJ will not get a contract like the top 10 or 15 players at the position, a team could see a “6’2” receiver who ran a 4.48 40-yard dash that produced, possibly, a 1,000-yard season with multiple quarterbacks” as the answer to their need at the position. With the salary cap expected to continue to rise, second-tier players like Peoples-Jones could find themselves getting paid closer to $15 to 20 million a year instead of $10 to 12 million.
For the Browns, getting an extension done this offseason could allow them to keep all of their weapons together and, perhaps, a cheaper contract. Allowing Peoples-Jones to play the final year of his contract out could lead to a bidding war and a chance that he has an even better season next year with Watson starting full-time.
DPJ is a huge success story for a sixth-round pick. His breakout season is going well and has put him in line for a new contract. Will that happen in Cleveland?